Promoting positive masculinity and parenting to build family cohesion in Rwanda

November 9, 2023

Poor parenting skills, lack of communication between family members and negative gender norms affect family cohesiveness and community cohesion. The baseline survey conducted by Interpeace in 2021 to inform its four-year holistic peacebuilding programme in Rwanda, revealed that they further contribute to exacerbating family conflicts and gender-based violence (GBV), thus tearing apart families.

The study identified four primary forms of GBV, including physical, economical, sexual, and psychological, experienced by both women/girls and men/boys across five districts, which cause family dysfunction and increase alcohol or drug abuse and delinquency among young adults. They also affect the socio-economic development of families and communities.

Interpeace and its partners, together with the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC), developed a curriculum that promotes positive masculinity and positive parenting norms and practices, targeting couples, older adolescents, and inmates as a contribution to existing efforts. More specifically, the curriculum targets parents, children between 12 and 24 years old, married couples and inmates nearing their release.

The curriculum proposes a gender-transformative approach in which the target population are encouraged to critically reflect on negative gender norms and stereotypes to challenge them and adopt more gender-equitable behaviours within families and communities.

The 2021 survey highlighted that more common forms of GBV identified are 10% higher in women than men. The curriculum will engage men and boys, alongside women and girls, to challenge rigid and negative notions of masculinity and negative parenting practices and adopt positive, nurturing, empathic, equitable, and caring ones.

If successfully implemented, it is expected to contribute to reducing sexual and gender-based violence and domestic conflicts, juvenile delinquency, fostering family communication and gender equality in families and communities.

‚ÄúWe decided to work on masculinities through engaging boys and girls to understand their vulnerabilities and resilience from a gender perspective and to address gendered drivers of family conflicts, to strengthen gender resilience and to promote women empowerment. We hope that this curriculum will improve knowledge and attitudes and practices on gender equality, positive masculinity, and parenting,‚ÄĚ noted Frank Kayitare, the Country Representative of Interpeace, in his welcome remarks at the curriculum validation workshop on 5 October 2023 in Kigali.

The four-module curriculum will complement other existing tools and policies on gender equality and family. It is aligned with the National Policy against Gender-Based Violence as well as the revised 2021 National Gender Policy, especially its priority area four, which seeks to leverage positive cultural norms that support best practices for gender equality, as well as priority area five on engaging men and boys in gender advancement. The Guest of Honor at the curriculum validation event, Aline Umutoni, Director General in charge of Family Promotion and Child Protection at the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), commended this initiative. ‚ÄúThis curriculum is unique as it targets critical groups of people. It contributes to building a Rwandan society free from violence and conflicts,‚ÄĚ highlighted Umutoni.

This curriculum will be implemented by various actors, including government structures and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from national to local levels.  27 people from those institutions have already been trained to train others for a quick and wide dissemination of the curriculum.

 

Structure of the curriculum

This preventive curriculum is made of four modules. The first two modules target couples within communities in both rural and urban areas. The first one targets couples with the main objective of improving equitable gender relationships between spouses and preventing or mitigating domestic violence, while the second targets couples as parents to encourage them to adopt positive and gender-equitable parenting and reduce harsh punishment towards children.

The third module targets adult male inmates in prisons to raise their awareness about positive masculinity practices to reduce the risk of committing GBV-related crimes once they reintegrate into their families and communities after release. The fourth module targets young people between 12 and 24 years old, in schools, within communities, and in rehabilitation centres to advance positive masculinity, healthy relationships and prevent GBV among young people.

Each module is meant to be delivered in a group setting, targeting groups of 24 people. It will be facilitated by two well-trained community-based volunteers (female and male). The latter will facilitate education sessions to be held once a week for six consecutive weeks.  Sessions should be interactive and must feature role plays, group works, case scenarios analysis, visuals, individual or in-pair reflection, as well as plenary discussions.

The curriculum was developed in partnership with the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC), an NGO advocating for gender equality, positive masculinities, and engaging men to eliminate gender-based violence.Its implementation will complement other Interpeace‚Äôs interventions, such as Multifamily healing therapy, a community-based psychological intervention that addresses intra and extra-family conflicts and builds family communication and cohesiveness in safe spaces.