Men2Men Community Dialogues
October 10, 2018
Under the project Men 2 Men: Engaging Men and Boys as partners in addressing Gender Based Violence and SRHR issues facing child brides; ROOTS had several community dialogues in five local communities during the month of September. The community dialogues were held in Wards 8& 11 Bindura district with trained facilitators on the ground. The dialogues aimed at addressing the environment in which child brides are living in and also discuss issues of Gender Based Violence in communities. Activities within the month of September aimed at supporting communities with SRHR information and conducting discussions on GBV and assessing the efficiency of the tool kit. All in all four community dIalogues were conducted by ROOTS in the following areas: Bemberero, Glamorgan, Woodlands and Arcadia.
On the 27th of September at 1000hrs there were around 60 people gathered at Bemberero for the Bridges training facilitated by ROOTS. Exercises during the training resulted in several discussions around social dynamics within the community. For example a disturbing scenario of early child marriage and GBV was then highlighted by one of the community member where an apostolic man in the area who has 12 wives and some of them below the age of 18. This helped ease into the condom usage and demonstrations. Feedback from the attendees was that they would appreciate having these dialogues at least once every month as they have been helpful. It was then agreed and arranged to have further sessions at Bemberero since it was impossible to have all the topics covered in one day.
Just like Bemberero, Glamorgan is also a farming community. The attendees of this dialogue were gathered by 1400hrs on the 27th of September. 2 bridges trained facilitators led the proceedings that were to a larger extent successfully carried out. The major discussion was around GBV as it was evidently one of the most topical issues in the community. The women especially spoke out and complained that men did not tolerate being denied sex. Through the “the future I want” exercise from the bridges training, the facilitators were able to dissect the matters and drivers towards solutions to these problems. The community requested the facilitators to have more sessions with them and for ROOTS to organize more of these dialogues.
The Woodlands community gathered in the morning of 28th September There was a crowd of slightly above 30 gathered. The major topic under discussion at woodlands was marital rape and also around reasons why condom use was not considered in relationships owing to suspicions raised when partners propose the usage of condoms. Through the bridges training on “the future you want” it was proposed that couples communicate openly about their life goal as well as on SRHR issues. Demonstrations on how HIV attacks the body were done by bridges facilitators with the community members actively participating. The picture below shows participants in Woodlands in a group picture after their dialogue:
In Arcadia people gathered at Maize lands secondary school. There was a high appreciation of the work ROOTS does and the bridges training at basic. Religious and traditional norms were mentioned as the drivers for gender based violence and early child marriages. Solutions that point to policy formulation at national level were proposed by the community. The bridges facilitators then took the lead with the crossing the bridges exercise where attendees identified some of the challenges mentioned here as hindrances to the future they wanted. This enabled the facilitators to crack the societal hindrances mentioned above and ask people to open their minds to choice and the dynamism of society. The day closed as the facilitators were picking cases from the community that they would follow up on after the dialogue including a child marriage situation.
All the four communities need ROOTS to increase the frequency of these dialogues and also their reach. They appreciated that this was a new way of tackling GBV, SRHR and ECM issues and also pledged to commit to the taught lessons and even initiate others into it. ROOTS definitely needs to be more active in terms of policy advocacy and effect constitutional amendments. Looking ahead, the communities want ROOTS to continuously be part of them and vice versa.
As with past experiences women were generally much more open and willing to participate in the dialogues as compared to men. We need to ensure greater representation from men and boys. Another challenge was communication between project members was sometimes hindered by poor network connections in most areas where the dialogues took place.
The collaboration between Bridges of Hope Training and ROOTS, supported by Hivos has so far yielded positive results as far as the work towards bettering local communities is concerned. The local people in all the areas where dialogues were conducted requested more future dialogues.