Far In Far Out: Rwanda Youth – Gender Awareness, Reconciliation and Violence Prevention
Project Leader: Gimu Ntayoberwa Shyikiro
(read Gimu’s bio here)
During one of our visits to Rwanda as part of the GER-CFOR programme, we held a forum for women only. Initiated by a couple women participants, they wanted to gather in facilitated dialogue to talk about their experiences of sexual violence during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. Over the years, Gimu, a board member of GER, who has attended our forum and training activities, expressed a strong interest in building awareness around gender issues among men, particularly in relation to ongoing domestic violence and the legacy of rape as a tactic of violence during the genocide.
In the Rwandan culture and elsewhere in Africa, speaking about sexual intimacy and sexual violence is restricted. Survivor victims of rape during the genocide and perpetrators who committed rape crimes during the genocide are not capable of breaking the silence about sexual violence during the genocide. This, therefore, affects their emotional healing and reconciliation process.
Gimu is dedicated to bringing awareness to issues of gender diversity and attitudes around masculinity that perpetuate violence. He believes that bringing awareness, and facilitating conversations about gender among youth is an essential part of the process of reconciliation and violence prevention for the future.
The project includes training; facilitating in-depth dialogue on sensitive ‘hot spots’ linked to issues of gender; mentoring and monitoring participants’ community projects; documenting their experiences; and bringing the learning from the programme into the wider society, to local authorities, national government, security, religious leaders and media. The project will include participants from six Districts.
In respect to gender awareness, Rwanda is more advanced than most countries when it comes to policy and representation of women in government. Yet – as is true everywhere –the reality of everyday life is often different than policy. Many women suffer deep-seated trauma from the widespread rape during the genocide, as well as ongoing domestic violence. Gimu points out that issues of gender have largely been missing from processes of reconciliation.
Gimu is dedicated to the process of exploring his own personal and professional development as a facilitator, to be able to work with such difficult and sensitive themes.