By Joyce Mukucha and Anyway Yotamu.
In an effort of continuing to promote access to inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights and sexual gender based violence information and services in Zimbabwe, Katswe Sistahood continues to spearhead the SASA! Faith journey, a guide to preventing violence against women and HIV prevalence in faith based communities.
Driven by the desire to break the culture of silence that has surrounded communities, the organisation has engaged different stakeholders as it prepares to move from the start phase to awareness phase guided by the aim to coordinate a critical dialogue on how imbalance of power is the root cause of violence against women and how best it can be erased for change.
Speaking during a Community Action Group Quarterly Meeting in Harare on the 20th of February 2020, Katswe Sistahood Programs Officer,Ottilia Chinyani said there was need to mobilise people so that they understand the importance of change which can lead to the betterment of the society.
She emphasised that instances of men being victims of violence cannot be denied but pointed out that they impact more on women and girls, thus requiring community working groups in partnership with other organisations to change the mindset of people in the upcoming awareness phase to ensure that violence is prevented as well as ensuring that there is equal power sharing.
“We have moved from start phase to awareness and we are calling upon everyone to play a critical role in ensuring that imbalances between men and women are erased. This can be achieved through engaging members of society.
“The awareness phase is set to inspire and enable the effective communication mobilisation and conduct community conversations on preventing on violence against women and HIV with a specific focus on faith communities. This phase intends to spark personal reflection, critical thinking and dialogue about how imbalance of power between women and men in relationships , families and the faith community affects us all,and how change can benefit us all. It is also vital in this awareness phase to break societal expectations which contribute the prevalence of violence against women and girls, ” she said.
Chinyani also urged members of the fourth estate to portray women and girls in a way which is not demeaning but rather empowering. Other stakeholders which include the police, Government, the church among others have been encouraged to play a significant role in their areas of operations to ensure that dialogues on how imbalances between men and women, violence and silence have the connection to HIV,continue to take place.
Speaking at the same event, Katswe Assistant Programs Officer,Paidamoyo Muganyi stressed that for an awareness phase to yield positive results, it was important to inform and communicate in a way which bring everlasting change.
“When engaging with people or when trying to raise awareness,there is need to make sure that a proper way is used, an approach which is not offensive or the one which can bring negative change. It is important to inform and communicate in a manner which bring everlasting change,” she said.
Katswe Sistahood is also looking forward to host a girls and women symposium, a platform which will enable them to engage with stakeholders by extending to them an opportunity to understand the importance of breaking silence through having conversations.
During the start phase, Katswe embarked on a four-month transformative journey with 121 SASA!Faith community activists representing 14 different churches from Kweke and Epworth.
SASA! Faith is and was co-created by Trócaire and Raising Voices and it takes the structure, process and content of the original SASA! and adapts it for use in Christian and Muslim communities.It is an initiative in which leaders, members and believers of a religion come together to prevent violence against women and HIV.
SASA! Faith can be initiated by anyone who cares about violence in their faith community and involves a process of community mobilisation – an approach and corresponding activities that engage everyone in living the faith-based values of justice, peace and dignity in their intimate relationships.