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  • Paternity Leave Dialogue Report

    The Paternity Leave Dialogue Report by RWAMREC, in collaboration with the Rwanda Civil Society Platform and the World Policy Analysis Center, explores and advocates for issues surrounding paternity leave in Rwanda. 24 July 2023

  • Breaking Barriers: Embracing Paternity Leave for a Thriving Rwanda

    In the quest for a more equitable society, Rwanda is acknowledged for making remarkable efforts in advancing women's rights and promoting gender equality. Yet, there's one vital aspect that still demands our attention: paternity leave. A recent policy dialogue held in Kigali sparked fiery discussions and unveiled the untapped potential of paternity leave in reshaping the very fabric of the Rwandan society. Organized by RWAMREC, the Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP), and the World Policy Analysis Center, the dialogue aimed to unravel the true significance of paternity leave. We delved into the heart of the matter - why it's not just about changing diapers, but a stepping stone towards fostering gender equality. The buzz ignited when Law n° 027/2023 came into play, amending the labor law to embrace maternity and paternity leave. However, it was yet to be determined the precise duration of these leaves through a ministerial order. This has left Rwandan fathers with limited support to engage in their families. Many Rwandan men are now yearning to step up to the plate, to be the supportive and engaged partners and fathers that their families need. Alas, the current 4-day paternity leave feels like an anti-climactic plot twist, leaving families hanging mid-air. Mr. Fidèle Rutayisire, ED of RWAMREC posed a though-provoking question to the audience during the policy dialogue. “How many of you are taking care of someone? How many of you fathers have taken the 4-day circumstantial leave, was it enough? And mothers, do you feel that the 3-month leave is sufficient?” The response was a resounding and unanimous 'no,' highlighting that the leave duration was not considered adequate for neither father nor mother. Globally, the stage has been set for change during the last decades. In Africa, the spotlight shines on countries like Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa, granting fathers at least two weeks of paid paternity leave. Their story of increased gender equality and happier families has left Rwanda longing for a similar development. But, like any good story, there are challenges to overcome. “Caregiving extends beyond financial support; women often associate it with emotional care, while men tend to relate it to economy. At the same time, not all men fit the same box, many have been transformed and are genuinely willing to actively engage in caregiving roles.” As a captivating short inspirational video began, depicting a Rwandan father from one of RWAMREC’s programs actively engaging in childcare, the audience was entranced. The room filled with cheers of encouragement, intrigued murmurs, and spontaneous applause as the father in the video skillfully bathed his baby, dressed and fed the little one, and tenderly wrapped them in the traditional Rwandan fashion on his back. The heartwarming display served as a powerful testament that Rwandan fathers are already embracing a transformative role in caregiving, eagerly awaiting the supportive policy to walk hand-in-hand with their commitment and dedication. The script called for civil society organizations to rally the troops and educate society about positive parenting, breaking free from outdated gender stereotypes, and to advocate for policy implementation of minimum 30 days of paternity leave. Mr. Nicholas Perry from World Policy Analysis Center continued to shed light on the possibilities of a longer paid leave. “The impacts of longer paternity leave spoke volumes, revealing a remarkable 6.8% increase in women's economic empowerment. Mothers experienced fewer sick leave days and spent more time engaged in paid work. The extended leave also ignited positive norm changes, paving the way for better job rights for women, especially in times of limited job opportunities. Fathers became more actively involved in caregiving and household responsibilities, testifying to more satisfaction in their relationships with their children" As the dialogue unfolded, hope shimmered among the participants. Stakeholders united, realizing that this was no solo quest; it's a collaborative blockbuster. Government institutions, civil society, employers, and employees must join forces. The recommendations from the groups included at least 30 days of paternity leave and six months maternity leave, for Government institutions to prioritize education and awareness on positive parenting and parental leave laws, promote positive masculinity to challenge caregiving stereotypes, and explain policies to the public, while collaborating with the private sector which is presently not always implementing government policies. Moreover, it was recommended that CSO’s should continue advocating for policy implementation and raise awareness about parental leave, focusing on promoting positive masculinity for gender equality. The role of religious institutions was acknowledged to emphasize support for positive parenting and parental rights awareness, and that religious representatives should be well-informed about government policies. And at the heart of it all are the families of Rwanda, yearning for a tale where fathers are engaged, mothers supported in their journey, and children have access to both of their parents. In this riveting story, the finale holds the promise of a better Rwanda. Longer paternity leave would bring harmony to families, strengthen women's economic empowerment, promote shared responsibilities and increased work-life balance. As the event came to a close, we found ourselves filled with hope and determination for an exhilarating future, where paternity leave transcends being a mere footnote and emerges as a powerful game-changer in our quest for gender equality. Let us continue to stand united, embracing this transformative journey, and together, let's propel paternity leave to the forefront of our efforts in shaping a better world for our children. Written by: Anna Wirén for RWAMREC


    Working at The Rwanda Men's Resource Centre (RWAMREC), with its role in promoting gender equality and transforming negative masculinity, was such an unforgettable experience in my life. Learning about engaging men and gender transformative approaches was one of the most memorable times I have ever had. While I was there, I witnessed and learned how men can become more involved in unpaid care work, especially in RWAMREC Bandebereho program that encourages men to be supportive partners to their expectant wives and to care about their children under five. There were times when we would film success stories from the field, of men who had actually transformed. I heard stories from men who had changed their attitudes towards unpaid care work, and taken steps to do their share at home. When I attended an event intended to introduce local leaders in Musanze to this program, I remember a man who shared how this change enormously improved relationships with his family and the wider community, and that he now sees its value. However, in the beginning, it was not easy: "We live in the same compound as my mother and one morning she saw me cleaning the dishes outside my house, which surprised her; she said married men don't do much, she kept saying that my wife had used some "traditional medicine on me," which was why I was acting strangely." He persistently maintained that it didn't stop him, but the wife was also attacked and blamed for not being “the good wife”. As a result, they were shunned by the community and their own family. "My wife and I did not stop until a team from RWAMREC kept visiting our village to offer some sessions to other couples, and most couples who thought of my behaviors as “strange” eventually got to understand that men should take part in unpaid care work," Let me just say the RWAMREC experience was quite beneficial, and it was inspirational to learn about how men's involvement in unpaid care duties can be a powerful tool to promote gender equality. By the way, while my spouse and I are talking today, I can obviously smell both the positive and negative aspects of masculinity in our own conversations, actions, and our daily routines. Personally, I think it is an amazing thing to be able to detect all that ha! RWAMREC’s work is clearly necessary for the health and well-being of families and the larger community, and I am confident that sustained efforts to encourage men in this area will benefit everyone. I was also able to work with the Rwanda Men Engage Network (RWAMNET), which is a network of different local NGOs applying the MEn Engage approach in their work, coordinated by RWAMREC. This allowed me to learn about the network's distinctive principles that it teaches men. I had the luxury of attending numerous community meetings and activities, and I developed a greater appreciation for the organizations that have joined forces to include men and young boys in the march toward gender equality. Through their interventions, I've seen how men and women work together to promote gender equality and the establishment of strong, healthy communities. But when it’s all said and done, one unsolved question will keep me interested in men and unpaid care work. The majority of these measures are working well in other provinces of Rwanda. Men in the city must still change some social standards. How will this be accomplished? What are our options? The city has the highest concentration of men who haven't gotten to the point of appreciating and taking part in unpaid care work. Can we intend to adapt and extend these programs to engage and reach the "urban guy", i.e. our own husbands? Moureen Mutiso

  • Engaging Men in Gender-Transformative Actions

    by Maria Francisca Gonçalves If gender is socially constructed through actions and norms based on cultural, biological and psychological interpretations, one could argue that discrimination as an act is one of its manifestations. And on the basis of gender, access to resources, power and control is determined as a result of roles, power relations, responsibilities, and expectations defined by gender norms. Since gender stereotypes are learned concepts, this means that they can also be unlearned or learned differently. Consequently, men’s ideas of what it means to be a man can change. However, for this change to occur, we need to engage men in addressing stereotypical ideas about what it means to be a man or a woman. The inclusion of young boys is also crucial, as gendered behaviours are shaped in childhood. Why does feminism need men? And why do men need feminism? First, because feminism isn’t a label, but an action, a movement to eliminate gendered oppression and promote gender equality. Feminism allows men and women to freely express their own individuality. Masculine perceptions are harmful both to men and women, such as: men are though, men need more sex, men are the breadwinners, men are head of the families, men are dominant, etc. One of the biggest challenges is that men are the main perpetrators of violent acts. So, accountability mechanisms should be strengthened and made available for women to report GBV. Yet men are too rarely seen as potential victims, allies, or participants in the effort to end violence. Therefore, it is important for RWAMREC to promote research and projects aimed at understanding how constructions of masculinities can contribute to cycles of violence, as perceptions of masculinity are also key barriers to women’s empowerment. Furthermore, understanding violence against women is incomplete if it does not include gendered practices that harm men and does not acknowledge that gender is also an issue for men. This recognition is key to creating long-term, sustainable gender transformation projects/programs, and this is where the MenEngage Approach and Alliance enters. It is important to clarify that the MenEngage exists in the form of a network of NGOs from the Global South and North that advocates men and boys for women’s rights, gender justice, LGBTQI rights, and social justice for all by promoting positive forms of masculinity. Alternatives to hegemonic masculinity that promote more inclusive, sympathetic, compassionate and egalitarian forms are referred to as positive masculinity. RWAMREC is an organization that works to promote these at country and regional level. RWAMREC has developed several theoretical models for behavioral change, primarily based on its main approach “the MenEngage”. One of the main strategies RWAMREC uses in its activities is the Journey of transformation model (JOT). This model engages couples in promoting gender equality, ending sexual and GBV in households, communities and workplace, while supporting women's economic empowerment. An excellent example of another gender-responsive intervention is curriculum-based interventions such as RWAMREC’s Bandebereho programme. The question that arises is: does this approach actually work? RWAMREC has conducted a study on the impact of the Bandebereho gender transformative couples’ intervention and has concluded that our findings, together with previous studies, suggest that culturally appropriate gender-transformative interventions with men and couples can be effective in changing deep-rooted gender inequalities and a range of health-related behavioral outcomes. RWAMREC research is thus already generating opportunities for future change by feeding research findings back to the communities and government partners and fostering entry points for new conversations about e.g. gender identity, roles and responsibilities and links to violence. In conclusion, feminism needs men, and men need feminism. Men from all social backgrounds should be intensively involved in programmes and campaigns to promote positive masculinity in the home and in everyday life. If men and boys are involved in changing attitudes towards women, then the prospect of building a more positive, responsible and safe environment is possible. This article is published in the following link: On the author: Maria Francisca Gonçalves is an intern at RWAMREC and is currently pursuing a masters in International Security at Sciences Po (Paris) with concentrations in Middle Eastern Studies and Diplomacy. She is also pursuing the Sciences Po's Gender Studies Programme, the Advanced Certification in Gender Studies. She enjoys all things MENA related and seeks to combine this with a passion for gender-transformative work.

  • RWAMNET BOOKLET 2019_2023

    The booklet is documenting the work of RWAMNET, the Rwanda Men Engage network over the last 4 years, with the support of SIDA through SONKE Gender Justice.


    Coming from a GBV-response background in Sweden, I have listened to countless testimonies from women who have had their rights and integrity brutally and cold-heartedly taken away. Horrendous accountsinvolving the darkest actions of humankind, presented on a platter of broken hearts and desperate minds. The common denominator? These acts of utter violence were all perpetrated by men. Men who in one way or another refused responsibility and punished help-seeking behaviors. As months turned to years, my inner frustration slowly but steadily spilled over the entire male population like a bucket of ice cold contempt. It was as if I went through my days hearing the familiar voice from an Attenborough documentary exclaiming“Ah, the infamous male Homo Sapiens! It grows up to two meters tall. Carnivorous. Easily identifiable by its fragile ego. Wondrous at sight, but beware! It can lash out and kill at the smallest inconvenience.”And I couldn’t possibly wrapmy head around why non-violent men were not climbing the barricades of their friend circles, families, and communities roaring for change. My didactic observations concluded; men suck. Arriving at RWAMREC, a proud member of RWAMNET and the MenEngage Alliance was, in theleast, an apocalypse. It was as if I had entered through a Narnia-like portal to a dimension in which men and thunder hollered for justice and humbled themselves under the rain of women’s eternal plights. As my world-view turned like a Swedish meatball in a frying pan, the questions I silently carried on my lips for the first weeks were; does it really work? Can men change? As trivial as that, but tragically honest from a young woman’s perspective. My inner journey required three monthsof internship, a pinch of casual car-talks and cross-checks with ED and the Program Manager, a trip to Musanze-Eden of East Africa and crafted beer, and frightening amounts of ginger infused African tea. Then one day, as the bright Rwandan sun dawned in competition with my inner self, I could finally see it. I saw men fallen prey on their own selves, tripping over history of failed masculinities, and men refusing to accept the status-quo. Men who selflessly, genuinely, and for solid reasons spent overtime at the office and in the field. Personally convicted gender inclusive individuals who intelligently shared a feminist vision of social justice. It was virtually spiritual. Today, I identify as a reformed feminist, convicted and baptized into the MenEngageapproach. Not merely because I can back up my stances with miles of research material in my support, but also because I have courageously taken a step of faith to envision a future in which men and women can work together for change. When my former colleague back in Sweden called me for some regular updates the other week (new clients at the shelter, yes rape and beatings during pregnancy, yes revengeful former husband) she paused, inhaled for a second, and distrustfully asked the questions that apparentlylinger on many female minds. So, does it really work? Can men change? By now you know my answer. Written by: Anna Wiren Kigali, Rwanda


    a youth facilitator's guide


    The launching ceremony of the Bandebereho scale-up project in Musanze, Burera, and Gakenke Districts was held on March 23rd, 2023, in Burera District. This 5 yearproject is a collaborative effort betweentheRwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) under the Maternal Child and Community Healthdivision(RBC/MCCH), the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), and the National Childhood Development Agency (NCDA). The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) provides financial support for this project. Bandebereho is RWAMREC flagship intervention, and an adaptation of Equimundo Program P for the Rwandan context.It is agender transformative intervention for couples that aims toengage men as partners and fathers in Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH),violence prevention and caregiving for a healthier couple relationship. The project targets expectant couples and parents of children under 5 years of age. Community health workers at the village levelare the ones facilitating weekly small group education sessions for 12 couples,for17weeks.The project seeks to positively change the gender attitudes and behaviors of men and couples to promoteimproved maternal and child health, as well as gender outcomes. The positive long-termimpact of the program has been proven by rigorous evaluation carried out through a randomized controlled trial, conducted 6 years after the implementation of the pilot program. Results showed that couples attending Bandebereho sessions showed a statistically significant positive difference across all outcomes, versus the control group. The launching ceremony was attended by various dignitaries, including the Mayor of Burera District, the Vice Mayor, Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) staff, the Director General of Butaro Hospital, the District Police Commander, and religious leaders, among others. Mr. Fidele Rutayisire, RWAMRECExecutive Director officiated the event. Participants pledged their support forthe Bandebereho scale-up project to achieve its expected outcomes. Currently the RWAMREC team is busy raising the matching funds to be able to cover the total budget requested by the scale up process.


    Positive masculinity programs, gender attitudes and practices, and health behaviors among men and boys in poor urban settlements in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Rwanda


    The booklet summarizes the main achievements and lessons learnt during the implementation of the different activities of GEWEP III in year 2022.

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