The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which aims to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. It runs from 25th November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (Human Rights Day).
Change Starts at Home is marking the 16 days of activism with ‘16 Stories for 16 Days’, a series of stories from those involved in our project. What comes through most of all in the stories is the hope, determination and positive changes that are happening between couples and in communities that we work with across Nepal.
Leading that change are our 72 group facilitators, who use the BIG Change Curriculum & Samajhdari (Mutual Understanding) radio program to support their groups each week in a listening and discussion session. As our leaders of change it made sense we start with some of their stories. Here is Subhardra, with story number 1:
Day 1: Subhadra’s Story
I am Subhadra from Chitwan in Nepal. I am a facilitator of a listeners’ discussion group for the radio program ‘Samajhdari‘ (Mutual Understanding). There are 10 married women in my group who meet every week. We listen to the radio program and then discuss various issues raised. We have been conducting these weekly sessions for the last 5 months.
Before we started meeting I used to see that the wives had to listen to their husband and obey them, men never did anything around the house and wives had to do the household chores even when they were sick. But these days I have seen many husbands doing housework and helping their wives with my own eyes. My members have also told me that their husbands have started including them in financial discussions and listening to their opinion when making decisions. They also said that their husbands have started talking about sex with them including asking for consent before having sex.
I used to see that sons and daughters were treated differently by parents. Girls were taught to do all the housework whereas a son went to school and could play in his free time. But after the members started coming to the weekly sessions, they have realized that they should not discriminate based on gender. Both men and women should be treated equally. These days the sons are also asked to help around the house just like the daughters. (As a group) We also learnt that if a husband and wife have a proper discussion with each other about their daily activities, share their wishes, desires and emotions, and have effective communication, then violence between husband and wife can be prevented.
I have also found changes in me. Previously if there was a fight between a husband or wife, no matter how serious it was, I would never get involved. There is a saying ‘a fight between husband and wife is like a fire in hay’ (meaning it starts very quickly and goes off quickly as well). It was considered to be a normal thing. But after taking part in the Change project, I am confident enough to go and talk to couples who are fighting. I intervene in the fight, I wouldn’t have done this before….I have also managed to earn trust from my community members. Many of them come and share their problems with me. Even those who cannot share with anyone else try and talk to me in private … I get asked by so many of them to get included in the weekly discussions. They always tell me that my group should include more…people!