Mpanzi is a nonprofit organization in Kenya dedicated to promoting development and peace in rural communities. The term Mpanzi is derived from the Kiswahili language and is used to mean planting seeds of hopes and nurturing empowerment. Their strategies for change include community mobilization and organizing, storytelling, public outreach, advocacy, and partnership development.
Mpanzi's Obogima initiative was launched in September 2011 to mobilize three rural villages in Kenya-- Kegochi, Rianyachuba, and Nyamagwa—in order to prevent violence against women and girls. The pilot project focused on three primary forms of violence against women—rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence—and worked to mobilize both men and women within the communities.
Among the projects for the Obogima initiative was a convening of 32 women-to-women storytelling sessions designed to provide awareness about the prevalence of violence against women. Sixty women joined these sessions that provided a safe space for women to discuss the prevalence of violence women that they face in the village, community, and family.
The sessions were designed to break the silence, heal their trauma, build a network, and share strategies about ways that violence can be addressed in the future. The stories gathered are shared through reports, emphasizing the women's agency and capacities, rather than their victimhood.
To learn more about Obogima initiative and other innovative communications campaigns that are working to end violence against women around the world, visit the Communications X-Change.[more...]
Today we salute a campaign that is designed to eliminate a shocking and relatively hidden practice in Cameroon: breast ironing. It is the focus of a very passionate Cameroon activist and journalist named Chi Yvonne Leina. As the founder and coordinator of Gender Danger, a grassroots women`s organization, she is fighting to end a traditional practice that is still happening to over three million girls in West Africa.
According to a Survey by the United Nations Population Fund and German Development Cooperation, one in four girls in Cameroon have had their breasts brutally pressed or pounded with hot objects, usually by their mothers, to prevent them from developing early. The mutilation is a traditional practice designed to avoid unwanted male attention, pregnancy and rape, but delaying the signs that a girl is becoming a woman.
The UN has also called breast ironing one of five forgotten crimes against women . Not only is it painful but, it exposes girls to health problems including abscesses, cysts, infection, tissue damage, and even the disappearance of one or both breasts. In 2012, Leina wrote a story about the secretive practice of Breast Ironing for the global news network World Pulse and it attracted huge media attention from all over the world.
More than 20,000 women and girls have vowed to end the practice since she began her work. Leina believes the only way the practice will stop is if women talk to each other about it. She said: “We need the silence to be broken.”[more...]