In order to contribute to the achievement of the 5th sustainable development goal of the United Nations Agenda 2030 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, AVSI has been working on the project “DUKINGE TWONGERE DUTABARE! Prévenir et assister !” in Burundi. The project is co-funded by the European Union and the implementing consortium.
On the occasion of the latest International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, AVSI and the Delegation of the European Union in Burundi organized an event to present the main results since the beginning of the project (November 2016).
“What we have learnt – explained Riccardo Bevilacqua, AVSI Burundi Country Representative - is that it is possible to prevent, assist and educate, through the construction of a new and equal relationship among people. To do so it is fundamental working in network, involving the whole community starting from the schools, local institutions and civil society organizations”.
In Burundi the government, with the support of partners, has adopted measures to tackle gender-based violence through laws and services. For example, decentralized services have been activated to assist victims. Furthermore, the law of 22 September 2016, which establishes the protection of victims and the suppression of gender-based violence, has resulted in the strengthening of community dynamics, prevention and report of abuse.
This is the framework in which AVSI has been implementing the “DUKINGE TWONGERE DUTABARE! Prévenir et assister !” project in collaboration with the Ministry, the local NGOs “Association en Faveur des Enfants Vulnérables (AFEV) - Association Femmes Juristes du Burundi (AFJB) – Commission Episcopale Justice et Paix (CEJP).
The project involves 22 municipalities in the provinces of Kirundo, Kayanza and Cibitoke.
In order to counter violence against women, AVSI works towards prevention, awareness raising and assistance to victims. AVSI implemented the sensitization campaigns in the schools to spread information on rights, responsible behavior and services available for victims.
In more than 80 schools "STOP GBV" (gender-based violence) clubs were put in place, supported by around 100 specifically trained teachers.
These clubs have played an important role in disseminating information on gender-based violence through multiple activities:
- 115 theatre performances which involved students and victims. They served to disseminate the problem of gender-based violence and at the same time played an important preventive role.
- To increase awareness, comics and flyers on the subject were donated to schools.
- Students were involved in a documentary which allowed young people to talk about themselves and reflect about what they can do firsthand to prevent gender-based violence.
- Teachers were involved in training sessions and debates to reflect on their role as educators on the issue.
The partners involved, coordinated by AVSI, assisted 8,083 victims with a holistic approach: AFEV offered lodging and subsistence, psycho-social assistance and support at medical centers; AFJB’s legal clinics provided legal assistance and the circulation of the 2016 Burundian law on the issue; CEJP, thanks to its widespread parish presence, set out awareness-raising activities in the community, working to reconcile family conflicts and supporting medical assistance.
“It has been found that the actual cases of violence against women have progressively increased – concluded Riccardo Bevilacqua - throughout the duration of the project. The assistance services provided by the project helped violence survivors to report abuse. But this is only the beginning: much remains to be done, especially for the poorest and marginalized victims of violence, so that they can react against abuse and fully rediscover their value and dignity”.
Claude Bochu, head of the European Union delegation in Burundi, confirmed that the EU is proud to support integrated projects like this. “Assisting victims of GBV – explained – must be a priority not only for Burundi, but also for the European Union. In this project, the work in consortium makes possible to propose an adequate and integrated response”.