Women from Gatsata, Jali and Gahanga sectors in Kigali city solved the water crisis, which used to be a source of gender based violence (GBV) in their families. By joining forces in associations, they eliminated the threat to their families and their villages.
These three sectors are among rural villages in Kigali city; people living there, some used to face the water crisis depending on their location. After being trained and supported by Global Grassroots, an organization that supports conscious social change for women and girls in post-conflict countries, women managed to bring water in their villages.
Phoebe Mukarugina is a widow, mother of three residing in Akumuyange village, Karuruma cell in Gatsata sector; identified first class of Rwandan social categories; she said that they used to face water crisis, it was hard for them to live and for that they were undermined in society.
In their villages some women used to face GBV because they were not clean; their husbands were not able to deal with it and some of them were beaten or stuck in quarrel. Some men just left their wives to find other women that may be clean, said Immaculate Mukarutabana, the colleague of Mukarugina and secretary general of their association ABIZERANYE.
Mukarugina added that in their village, before the arrival of clean water, they had cases of families where a husband and a wife used to stay in different rooms, because the woman was not able to manage the cleanliness. When the water came, they visited those families and reunited them.
Jean de Dieu Twizeyimana from Jali sector, he leads the association Tuzamurane that managed to bring water in that sector with the support of Global grassroots. Twizeyimana confirms that before, women used to face GBV resulted from lack of clean water. He said “we, men like women that are clean, if you are a man working all day from the town, and go back home tonight to find your wife who has been looking after kids and didn’t get time to wash herself or her clothes, it is hard to keep that situation calm.”
Not only women, even their children were threatened
Many children faced the same violence as their mothers, while other kids are in class; children from these villages were struggling to find water, at common water sources, resulted in drop outof so many kids.
Alice Tuyisenge, 18 years old now, is from Jali sector and has leg disability. Tuyisenge said “we used to take around eight hours every day to find water; the way from our homes to the water source was also risky because sometimes there were gangs around.” They were not able to fetch and go to school the same day, hence the drop out for many of them.
Today, women together with their children are out of danger, said Mrs. GislaineUwitonze, the Rwanda senior program officer at Global Grassroots. Mrs. Uwitonze believes that a woman can solve whatever issue if she is just lightened; because it is not the power that women lack but just a little support to lift them up.
Mrs. Uwitonzeadded that a woman equipped withresourceshas capability, power and the courage to initiate positive change for her and for others, which is the change they are expecting from these vulnerable women they support, to advance mindful social change in their post-conflicts communities.
Francine Andrew Mukase