The role of gender equality in ending sexual and gender-based violence. 

I’m Glad He Took My Place – TOGETHER Project, ADRA CanadaBetty Lado loves her family of six children. Like every good mother, she does all in her power to ensure her children have what they need.  

Betty also loves her community in Uganda. As a member of the Village Health Team (VHT), she endeavours to make her community a place where all can enjoy good health and well-being.  
But until recently, Betty had a major obstacle in pursuing her family and community aspirations. That obstacle was her own husband.  
Betty shared, “My husband was absent from the lives of his children. He would wake up very early to [work as a taxi driver]. He would use the small earnings to get himself drunk and return very late in the night, shouting and using vulgar language which scared the children and made them run to the neighbours in fear of what could happen to them. Alcohol had affected his health because all he could do was get drunk, without eating well, which made his skin so pale and his body weak. 
Betty’s husband also never approved of her involvement with the Village Health Team. The VHT is part of a strategy from the Ministry of Health in Uganda to help individuals and households achieve better health. VHT members assist with health data collection, sharing health information and education, and encouraging community members to seek appropriate treatment. 
“My husband was the biggest challenge. Whenever I returned from the Village Health Team meetings, he would quarrel so much and tear my book, destroying all the work and data I collected. He complained about my commitment to community activities.” 
Nevertheless, Betty continued with her involvement in the community, tenaciously pursuing what was essential to her.  

I’m Glad He Took My Place – TOGETHER Project, ADRA Canada

Gender Equality Empowers Transformation
ADRA Canada believes in the inherent rights and values of each person.
We’re passionate about empowering people to overcome obstacles to unlock their potential.
Gender equality is a profound way to ensure that all can pursue the life they choose. Achieving gender equality requires a multi-faceted approach.  
Through the TOGETHER project, ADRA Canada is helping women and men, girls and boys, to think differently about harmful gender norms, expectations, and practices. Through training, discussions, and data collection, ADRA Canada works closely with leadership, existing structures like the Village Health Teams, and communities to bring about a positive mindset change, one in which all are regarded as equal and valuable, with inherent human rights. With the mindset change comes problem-solving and planning for the future to ensure everyone can enjoy their rights.  
With generous funding from Global Affairs Canada, the TOGETHER project is working to ensure that over 100,000 of the most vulnerable in Cambodia, Kenya, the Philippines, and Uganda can exercise their health-related human rights.  
Harmful gender practices often bar girls and women from accessing the healthcare and information they need to live healthier, well-informed lives. Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) leads to crippling trauma, teenage pregnancies, and early marriages that can perpetuate the cycle of violence and poverty.  
TOGETHER seeks to disrupt and break this cycle.  

Betty’s Changed Life 

“The time ADRA came to organize CoLMEAL committees in my village I was selected by community members to represent health issues on the CoLMEAL Committee. 
CoLMEAL, an initiative of the TOGETHER project, empowers individuals and communities to identify problems, especially those that perpetuate poverty and SGBV. CoLMEAL also trains participants to find sustainable solutions to the problems, to gain community buy-in, and to lead the way to positive, lasting change.  
Unfortunately, when the time came for the first CoLMEAL meeting, Betty was away, tending to the family’s farming plot. However, her husband chose to attend the meeting in her place.  
This was his turning point because he never stopped coming to this meeting, which created amazing changes in his life. I am so glad he took my place. 
When Betty returned from working the farm, she was astonished by the unexpected.  
I was surprised to find my husband at home, relating peacefully with the children. He was having a fatherly talk and relating so well with all of them. He started sharing what the [CoLMEAL] training was all about and that’s when I realized that he had changed because of this training. They had discussed community problems, especially genderbased violence, its causes, effects, and solutions. 

Gender equality isn’t just for women.

I’m Glad He Took My Place – TOGETHER Project, ADRA Canada

Gender equality is about unlocking the potential in each individual, helping them to overcome beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that hold them in harmful, unhealthy circumstances. Betty’s husband is an example of how efforts toward gender equality empower men to become their best selves. And in the process, their families benefit.  
Betty confidently affirms, “My husband has changed. His alcohol consumption has reduced and his health is recovering.” 
The positive changes haven’t been for her husband alone. Betty and the children are also enjoying the benefits of his transformation.  
“He allowed me to attend the SGBV and the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights trainings by ADRA and [their partner] Mildmay for the Volunteer Health Teams. I can now carry out my duties peacefully as a VHT member and he returns home early to have more time with the children. Despite his negative attitude toward girls’ education, I have hope that through CoLMEAL he will change his mindset and realize the importance of education for all children since it was identified [by the community as one of the ways to reduce SGBV.]” 

Breaking the Cycle  

Betty’s family is breaking their own cycle of SGBV. A better understanding of gender equality and the value of each person helped them to abandon the harmful mindsets and practices that kept them locked in the cycle. Many of the families who actively partner with the TOGETHER project are also stepping outside the cycle and into a transformed life.  
This kind of work is only possible with your support. We are so grateful for your partnership with us, and ultimately with the communities in which we work!