The Wall of Silence Has Been Broken
Fida’s Latin American project has promoted equality of women and girls and prevented domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Anne Joensuu has been working for almost 30 years in Latin America in missions and development cooperation duties. Over the years she has encountered many of the dark sides of the macho culture.
- Men saw it as their right to hit and beat. The woman submitted herself to it, because she was afraid of what would happen, if she protested. There was no intervention; instead, it was often said that the woman had provoked the situation.
Even the church communities were not immune to these problems.
- I saw how women's opinions were not valued in Latin America, and on the other hand, how competent women they had there.
From prejudice to collaboration
Anne Joensuu started a regional project in Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru to motivate the church partners to enforce gender equality. The beginning of the gender work was not easy.
- In the beginning, there were huge prejudices. People were asking if that woman is now coming to tell us what to do, and there were fears that the wives would be brainwashed.
- Once the men noticed that the women were not trying to compete with them, but instead had their own roles, they learned to appreciate the gender work.
Change starts at the churches
Project support from Fida ended in 2014, but the work continues with the local church resources.
- Women are now listened to more and they are given responsibility. Men and women work together. Men can even help in the kitchen duties without losing their masculinity. Previously that would have been considered terrible.
The learning materials produced by the project have proven to be such useful tools that other organisations have also wanted to use them.
- Here our partners have gone through the materials with professionals and added African content into them. It is really important that they did it themselves.