Nelson and his wife Nomatter
The first phase of the TORCHES (Towards Resilient Communities with Health, Equity, and Safety for all) project is focusing on strengthening male involvement in addressing the marginalization of women facilitating more gender-equitable and equal communities.
Action Aid together with its partners Leonard Cheshire Disability, Family AIDS Caring Trust- Zimbabwe (FACT) and Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) with support from Postcode Lottery are using the SASA model in achieving communities where women and girls are free from violence.
SASA is an exploration of power—what it is, who has it, how it is used, how it is abused, and how power dynamics between women and men can change for the better. SASA demonstrates how understanding power and its effects can help in preventing violence against women and HIV infection.
FACT Zimbabwe interviewed three men from ward 4 and ward 7 in Ruwangwe, Nyanga who were able to share their experiences of how SASA has transformed their way of thinking resultantly changing their behaviours.
Nelson Mukwewa, grew up in a predominantly male household, where it was primarily the duty of the few girls in the family to do all the chores: the cooking, cleaning, and everything in between. Each of them described their unique journeys of how the TORCHES project helped them become gender-sensitive.
“Growing up, I always thought that there are certain chores that should only be done by women. Before the coming of SASA, my wife would do most of the household chores here without my help, be it ploughing the land, laundry, cooking etcetera. I was not conscious of how this was wrong,” said Nelson.
Nelson has now discovered that helping his wife with the chores has not only increased their yield but has also helped him to spend more time with his wife.
Nelson helping his wife with laundry.
“When SASA came, it transformed my way of thinking. It taught me that for a relationship to work, we should work together with my wife instead of just burdening her. When I started helping my wife, even our harvest increased because working as a team we were able to cultivate a much bigger portion,” he added.
When the FACT team visited Nelson’s homestead, he was helping his wife with the laundry. He explained that through SASA he had learned that being a man does not mean being proud hardcore masculine. Nelson now understands that women have the power to also make family decisions.
“SASA also taught me that as a man I should be kind-hearted instead of having pride. Just because I am the man of the house doesn’t mean I don’t have to listen, help and respect my wife. Helping each other benefits everyone in the family.”
“Some men think that helping your wife makes you look like a stupid man or like someone who has been bewitched. But that is not the case. When your wife is occupied, maybe she is sweeping the house, go ahead and help her with the laundry. Everything gets to be done in time,” said Nelson.