WORKING WITH COUPLES IN RURAL RWANDA
Your complete source on everything Indashyikirwa! Our goal is to make all materials on a programme easily accessible in one place. If you are aware of additional resources, please contact us.
Indashyikirwa (‘agents of change’ in Kinyarwanda) is designed to reduce levels of intimate partner violence, as well as to improve the response to survivors. The programme shifts attitudes and behaviours at the individual and relationship levels, as well as transforms wider social norms that tolerate violence and underpin inequalities between men and women.
The programme has four components:
- A 21-session participatory training curriculum for couples
- Community-based activism (based on the SASA! model) led by a subset of individuals who completed the couples’ curriculum and received ten additional days of activist training
- Direct support to survivors of intimate partner violence through women’s safe spaces
- Training and engagement of opinion leaders
A cluster randomised controlled trial of the couples component showed that Indashyikirwa reduced both women’s reported experiences and men’s reported perpetration of violence. The programme also led to reduced acceptability of violence, depression, and interpersonal conflict, as well as increased communication, trust, self-efficacy, and household earnings, as well as reduced violence against children.
Indashyikirwra was implemented by CARE Rwanda, the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre, and the Rwanda Women’s Network. The community mobilisation component was an adaptation of the SASA! programme developed by Raising Voices in Uganda. If you want to adapt the Indashyikirwa, we strongly recommend that you contact Care International and the Prevention Collaborative.
- With adequate care and attention, couples-based programming can be implemented safely and effectively, even in settings where violence is tolerated and common.
- Comprehensive training and support to facilitators—including information about vicarious trauma and how to provide psychosocial support to women who disclose abuse—are key to achieving positive impacts.
- Without skilled facilitation, couples-based programming may put women at increased risk of violence.
- The style of informal community activism anticipated by the SASA! programme may be less viable in more formal, highly structured societies, such as Rwanda.
- Adaptation and translation of the SASA! materials needed for community activism took considerably longer than anticipated. Donors and programme managers should allow at least six months for this activity.
- Women appreciated the programme’s women’s safe spaces and sought help from the safe space facilitators more often than from formal services.
“I FELT THAT WHENEVER I NEEDED TO HAVE SEX, I HAD THAT RIGHT. BUT AFTER STARTING THESE TRAININGS, I DISCOVERED MANY THINGS THAT WE HAVE BEEN IGNORING BECAUSE OF WHAT WE COPIED FROM OUR ANCESTORS. I LEARNT THAT MY WIFE ALSO HAS A RIGHT TO INITIATE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE, WHICH IS SOMETHING NEW FOR ME.”
MALE PARTNER, EASTERN PROVINCE, AT THE MIDPOINT OF THE PROGRAMME