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Australia and Southern Pacific
Mothers’ Union has been active in Burundi for nearly 70 years and currently has around 17,000 members who actively promote stable family life and support those who have met with adversity. In recent times, particularly in Bujumbura, members have been working to support those displaced by ongoing political unrest and violence.
One of the main programmes run by Mothers’ Union Burundi is the Literacy and Financial Education Programme which continues to flourish in most parts of Burundi, and is still managing to run some groups in the conflict area of Bujumbura. The programme has a significant grant from Comic Relief which has enabled us to run the programme across the whole of Burundi. This financial support has enabled Mothers’ Union Burundi to raise awareness about women’s rights, and enabled participants to advocate for change as part of the work within the literacy and financial education groups. Group facilitators and members of staff were trained in advocacy in 2013. The training helped the community leaders identify issues related to gender-based violence, early marriage, lack of women’s inheritance and birth/marriage registration as well as formal girl education. As a result of the training the Literacy Trainers were equipped with advocacy skills which would then be passed on to facilitators and learners, and an advocacy tool kit was developed to help facilitate this process.
The programme has already witnessed transformation among the facilitators and the learners and they are now acting as agents of change in their communities . For instance, during the facilitators training, one male trainer said; "When I go home, the first thing i'll do is hug my wife and ask for forgiveness because I have abused her by ignorance. I'll now give her more consideration and involve her in planning and deciding on everything related to our family."
As a result of the advocacy training, many group beneficiaries now participate in campaigns on International Womens Day (8th March). At community level, they have been active to fight for gender justice. LFEP Trainers organised a campaign to advocate for change and ending gender-based violence in which many government officials participated. Interviews on National Radio and Television were given to voice the concerns of abused women. With respect to advocacy around ending gender based violence, the Programme Manager and Trainers worked closely with the Ministry in charge of gender at regional levels (CDFC) as well as the cabinet of the Ministry at national level.
Over the last year, Mothers' Union and the Anglican Church in Burundi have been speaking out and campaigning for an end to violence against woman and girls. From local advocacy initiatives - including rallies and special events on International Women's Day - to international summits such as "End Sexual Violence in Conflict" summit in London in June 2014, members have been very active in this area.
Many of the Literacy and Financial Education Programme groups actively participated in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Within their groups they organised marches and meetings to raise awareness around the issues. During this time many group members also paid home visits to gender-based violence suvivors and some held prayer gatherings.
Mothers’ Union members: 14,674