Fighting gender based violence in Mozambique
BMS World Mission is supporting work to stop gender based violence from happening in schools. Find out how one local worker is committed to making a difference in her home country
Felizarda Maria Chimunto is a woman who wears many hats in her community in Mozambique – secondary school teacher, youth leader and Bible college teacher. All are important positions, but there’s an additional role that she is very passionate about – gender based violence awareness (GBV) facilitator.
Felizarda knows it’s an important job because of the statistics. In 2014, BMS conducted a GBV survey with partner the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC) in schools throughout the city of Beira (Mozambique’s third largest city). They found that 60 per cent of students said that GBV was happening within their schools and 30 per cent of girls said that they had personally been victims. The survey also revealed an overall culture of silence around GBV and a lack of knowledge of the laws against it.
The results of the survey inspired BMS to take action. Today we support awareness campaigns in secondary schools across Beira to help schools in enforcing a zero tolerance policy of GBV. The goal is to help provide better protection for girls, create effective punishment for perpetrators, support victims and make students more aware of their rights.
Since March 2016, Felizarda has been a part of this important work creating awareness of GBV and advocating for justice in schools. In her role as part-time GBV project facilitator, she liaises with school authorities to implement the GBV prevention in schools, helps organise legal education seminars, facilitates discussions on issues related to GBV among church youths and advises students of legal options available in cases of abuse.
Sharing faith is also an integral part of the work done within schools and churches. There’s a special emphasis place on dignity and that scriptures say that all human beings are born equal with dignity in the image of God. Through the course of teaching laws and rights, facilitators also provide a biblical perspective on topics and it opens the door for conversations of how biblical and legal principals can relate to each other.
Annet Ttendo Miller, a BMS lawyer who works alongside Felizarda with the GBV project, has been very impressed with Felizarda’s dedication.
“You can see Felizarda’s passion for empowering youth come through in her work,” says Annet. “She really stands out as a role model for the young people in the schools, churches and community.”
Through the GBV project, legal education seminars have been going since April 2016. Already, many people have been impacted – 691 beneficiaries (both men and women), 481 students across schools in Beira and 55 church youths from three different Baptist churches in Beira have been reached.
As the GBV project continues, Annet knows that it is essential to work with local workers like Felizarda to make a bigger impact. Their insight into the culture of a place is invaluable to ensuring the work is successful and it’s a great way to empower local communities.
“Working with local workers overseas promotes national ownership, continuous learning, listening to new ideas and empowering local people,” says Annet. “Mission workers cannot transform lives without the help of local workers. Having team work and mutual partnerships is so important.”
Do you want to join us as we continue to take a stand against GBV? You can help make a difference by giving to the BMS Dignity initiative today.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.