People from all over Pangani District flocked to Mwera village on November 25th to participate in the 2019 launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. They turned this year’s theme: “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!” into a colorful event that showed how Pangani Women and Girls experienced rape, sexual violence and abuse.
For the first time Ruth Elia, a Massai woman leader from Mikinguni, stood before the crowd and spoke with great courage about the excessive beating of her fellow women by the men in her village.
Masai Woman Leader Ruth Elia
After participating in the UZIKWASA reflective leadership training, Ruth shared that she felt confident enough to do something about this. She approached male Massai leaders to work with men and she herself worked with the women in her village. Impressive when Lazaro, one of the Mikinguni Elders rose from his seat to confirm what Ruth had just said. He appreciated that Ruth was able to convince a number of men that there is a need to change so that they started listening to women and let them participate in making decisions at home and in village matters. According to Mzee Lazaro, the communication between men and women in Mikinguni indeed did improve remarkably, resulting in visible reduction of gender violence cases.
Several theater performances showed typical stories of gender violence, intimate partner violence, child abuse and rape in the community and how leaders, police and members of the community increasingly work together to bring cases to justice. The need for strong collaboration among all stakeholders was also the key message of the Mwera Magistrate’s speech who was the guest of honor. UZIKWASA’s radio Pangani FM live broadcasted the whole event so that the rest of Pangani residents could be part of it.