Unegiu Nemezius, a 43-year-old member of the Nenkutimo Self-Help Group (SHG) which formed in February 2013, is a gender champion in his group. Before becoming a gender champion, he had a negative attitude towards the equal value of women and men. He would not do work “meant” for women like cleaning the compound, fetching water from the water source, or any other domestic work like peeling cassava or cooking food. Decision-making was done by him alone, without any consultation with his wife. Even local government officials testified to his gender-bias during community gender programs.
But after he received training on gender equality and equity supported by World Renew, Nemezius realized that gender is not only about women: it is about equal involvement in work and decision-making between men and women. This realization helped him change his attitude. He now sweeps the compound, fetches water, peels cassava, cooks meals, and always consults with his wife on matters regarding them. All of these changes have taken the family’s neighbors by surprise. His wife, Paska, is no longer overburdened by household work.
And when she stays late at her job, she no longer worries that a load of household chores will be waiting for her when she gets home. Furthermore, she believes that her sons are learning a valuable lesson from their father.
“Every evening he sits with our sons and teaches them about gender equality,” Paska says. “This has influenced them to support their spouses with household work as well.” Benega Felix, the chairman of Local Council III in Kucwiny SubCounty says, “We are proud of KIFP. We have experienced many changes in our cultural practices because of this project.
Our culture is totally male dominant, with men having the ownership of everything.” Onengiu Onesmus, the counselor for Ramogi parish, says that he is “impressed by the changes in character that people are making. They are becoming role models for the rest of the community.”
Because traditional gender roles are entrenched in the community’s current lifestyles, change here is going to be gradual.
It takes time and courage for local gender champions to ensure that the lessons they have taught are making a difference in people’s lives. The creative, innovative use of gender champions who live by example can make that difference, with the involvement of the church to help foster change. We are hopeful that change will come more quickly than we expect.
- The steady rainfall for a promising crop yield during the growing season.
- Prayerful support for the work in Uganda.
- The end to Ebola and Marburg virus threats in Uganda and West Africa.
- Safety for staff traveling in the region.
- Peace ahead of the upcoming presidential election in 2016.
- Grace and peace will reign amidst the challenges of life around the world.
- Church leadership will be visionary and relevant to the needs of congregations.