Promoting Unity in Households Through Gender Equity Training

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Joseph Loum and wife Anna Mothing


Joseph Loum and his wife Anna Mothing used to quarrel regularly before Joseph took part in gender equity training carried out through the Nuyok project in Nakapiripirit district in Uganda’s Karamoja sub-region.

“The best thing about the training is we have eradicated domestic violence. There used to be fights in the home, violence, quarrelling. But now those things do not happen anymore,” says Joseph, a 39-year-old farmer from Natirea parish in Lolachat subcounty.

Joseph blames their domestic troubles on his excessive drinking.

“We used to quarrel because I used to drink a lot. I would come home drunk and dictate, ‘Why have you not fed the children? Why have you not cooked food for me?’,” he explains. The training helped him to see how alcoholism was damaging his relationships within his family.

“I have learned that if you over-drink, you can magnify small things to cause issues and problems within your family. Sometimes when you are drunk you don’t recognize that someone is tired, that someone has been working all day and is not able to do everything. So they might reply in a very bad tone, and then you start quarrelling,” Joseph says. “My drinking is minimal now.”

The kind of hostile atmosphere that domestic violence can create also has knock-on effects that can deeply affect children in the household.

“Domestic violence brings disunity. You cannot share a word with your partner. There is no joint decision making. You find that you are always apart, you don’t come together,” says Joseph. “The kids grow up hostile because they have seen the mother and the father fighting. They think it is normal, so they also develop bad character.”

Anna who attended the second training with her husband, echoes these sentiments. “What I learned is to be good role models as a couple, so that your children don’t copy bad manners. If you are disunited, if there is domestic violence or fighting, the children will grow up thinking it is the normal way of living. But when you are together, you are role models, you are a good father and mother, the children will copy good behavior,” Anna says.

Through the Nuyok project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Catholic Relief Services is training Male Change Agents who later become champions to promote gender-sensitive practices with a focus on shared workload, decision-making and non-violence to challenge gender inequities within communities and bring about positive behavior change in health and nutrition practices. The agents are trained in their communities for three days.

Following the training, Joseph and Anna are strengthening their relationship by making joint decisions about household needs.

“It is good to share household responsibilities. It is good to help. It is good to always share ideas with your wife,” Joseph says. “After the training I now wash the children’s clothes, which I used to not do. I am able to go look for greens outside. I can even cook and scrub the sauce pans. I no longer fear the kitchen. In those days I used to not even go close to the kitchen,” Joseph says.

Part of their sharing also involves pooling their financial resources. “When I get a bit of money, I first give it to my wife to keep. But if I want to go spend time with other men or go for a market day or for a visit, I ask her to help me with some money, at least for transport. And then she can say yes, or even say no, that we need the money for another big issue which we need to address first as the priority. And then I listen,” he says.

“For example, if my wife explains that there is no sauce pan in the home, I see that one is really needed,” he says.

Joseph is also passing on what he has learned to other men in his community.

“When the men gather around the fire in the evening, we talk about these things. I speak about what I have been trained on,” says Joseph. “The other men take it positively, although change is something that takes a long time. You can do one thing today, another tomorrow, another after that,” he says.

“You can see that I have built a drying rack, and we have a latrine. We are aware that we should clear the compounds so grass is not growing near where we are sleeping,” Joseph says. “Most of the men I have interacted with at least have cleared up the area around their compound. You can see them carrying jerry cans to go fetch water for their women. This used to not happen here.”

Last updated: June 18, 2020

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