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Village Head, a GBV Male Champion and Role Model

“As Padare Men’s Forum on Gender, we use different tools to engage men and boys in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV), with the aim of challenging patriarchal power, domination, harmful practices and toxic masculinity that encourage GBV,” says Memory Chindewere, Padare Programmes Officer.

“We conduct cultural dialogues in which we engage chiefs, headmen and village heads in conversations on cultural values that fuel GBV and because of these, people within a cultural set up easily accept Padare work because we use approaches they believe in.”

Village head, Clemence Gudza, of ward 16 in Nechavava Village in Buhera, is one of the village heads who has accepted the challenge and has become a Male Champion in ending violence against women and girls.

“I used to be an abuser, there was no peace in my home as I was physically abusive towards my wives, a wife would leave because of abuse and I would marry another – it became a cycle - until I encountered Padare Men’s Forum,” says village head Gudza.

“After a conversation on GBV by Padare with male perpetrators, I did some self-introspection and realized that I had been wrong and had caused suffering to my former wives. It was at this point that I decided that I wanted to change my behaviour and be a role model for other men in my village.”

Clemence says when Padare conducted its first workshop in the area, there were only a few men who expressed an interest in fighting GBV. He was selected to be chairperson of a 7-member committee that had been set up to conduct GBV surveillance and directing to referral pathways where necessary.

“We usually conduct door-to-door GBV surveillance and take advantage of gatherings – whenever people are gathered, we use the opportunity to spread the word and direct those affected to facilities where they can get support,” Clemence says proudly.

The village head and GBV Male Champion, Clemence says GBV cases in Nechavava Village continue to go down since the intervention of Padare’s educational conversations on male inclusion in fighting GBV. He adds that, what has made fighting GBV easier is acceptance of the programme by Chief Nechavava.

Clemence’s story has proved true to the values of Padare as articulated by Memory that “men are capable of being role models and speaking to each other, collaborating and uniting to end GBV against women and girls.”

Padare believes that if the world is going to be successful in addressing and ending GBV, men and boys should be actively engaged and involved as it has been noted from studies that they are the perpetrators of GBV.

Since April 2020, UNFPA has been supporting Padare to build a movement among men and boys to prevent GBV and mould male champions against GBV at community level under the Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls. The project seeks to achieve personal transformation in community leaders that can in turn influence their communities, leaders who will change from being viewed as conspirators and potential perpetrators of GBV to being responsive, credible and effective leaders in addressing GBV. In addition, the project aims to transform the negative attitudes and beliefs that drive harmful practices against women and girls.

As part of the process Padare is also offering psychosocial support and counselling to assist and support men to cope with Covid19 stresses and shocks and develop acceptable coping mechanisms.

This article was first published in the Spotlight Initiative bi-weekly newsletter.