Training Men to Prevent Gender Violence in the Congo
Thursday, August 30, 2007 2:51 PM

In response to widespread sexual violence during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Women for Women International began a Men's Leadership Program (MLP). This program addresses men's roles in creating solutions to intervene, prevent and ultimately end violence against women. The program  seeks to "mobilize[e] men as agents of change" and "recogniz[e] the power men have to challenge the thinking, attitudes and behaviors of other men."

The Men's Leadership Program has training and education components to create leaders within the community who advocate against physical and sexual violence against women. To gauge the community's response, Women for Women International conducted a survey of 392 male community members. They found that over half of the respondents felt that women had little to contribute to rebuilding society. Almost ninety percent of respondents thought that wives should submit to and obey their husbands. After going through the Men's Leadership Program, men's perceptions of women's roles changed and controversial topics like HIV were discussed publicly for the first time. After the education and training sessions, men responded that their relationships transformed into ones based on respect, not submission. The report recommends more trainings to a wider audience, including youth and police.

Compiled from: Oser, Cory, Ending Violence against Women in Eastern Congo: Preparing Men to Advocate for Women's Rights, Women for Women International, Winter 2007.