A third phase of the EIRENE-ACFODE project kick started with an assessment of the positive and harmful socio-cultural practices in the rural communities in Kisoro district that affect women and girls. The three year project to be implemented in the four sub counties of Busanza, Kirundo, Nyakabande and Nyarusiza shall aim at empowering communities to promote positive socio-cultural practices in Kisoro.
The assessment conducted from 1st – 4th February was amongst 87 (41 females and 46 males) respondents who ranged from key informants including local leaders, politicians, health workers, police and CODERASH, cultural leaders, religious leaders and community members especially elders, women, men and children highlighted both positive and harmful practices.
Among the identified positive practices were; peaceful homes (joint decision making, respect, counseling, faithfulness, cooperation, communication), women’s access to property rights and financial services (saving groups, ownership, inheritance, farming), women’s participation in community activities (leadership (social and political), event participation), responsible parenting (basic needs, children’s education, care)and Girl Child Education.
A participant at the validation meeting giving ideas on socio-cultural practices
The harmful practices identified included; alcoholism, early marriage and pregnancies, domestic violence, lack of property rights for women (men own family property, women have no say in management of family property, economic violence) and family neglect (children not in school, poor feeding, child neglect, child labor, men fail to provide for the family, lack of parenting)
The assessment also looked into aspects like why the harmful practices continue to prevail in the communities, who is responsible for their prevalence and how they can be eliminated. In addition to that, it looked at how the positive practices can be promoted.
Following the completion of the assessment, a validation meeting was conducted in Kisoro which attracted 29 participants (18 males and 11 females) and aimed at qualifying the findings of the assessment and generating commitments of different stakeholders to the new project. These participants included district leaders, religious leaders, head teachers, CODERASH and elders as opinion leaders.
These participants in addition to validating the results of the assessment added their voice to the other respondents by raising other harmful practices that affect women and girls. These included; family neglect, domestic violence, incest, early/child marriages, school drop outs, alcohol abuse, neglect of girl child, polygamy, land conflicts and lack of property rights by women. The biggest issue of concern that attracted huge debate and was relatively a new practice was Incest. One participant was noted saying… “In fact am at war with my people in my area in Busanza where many relatives are marrying each other. I put up a fight against this issue but it’s a battle I am destined to lose as it’s a tradition that has been embraced in the area. We really need to join hands and fight this vice which leads to inbreeding…”
Field officer Kisoro District