I Care About Her: Building a movement of champions to end violence against women and girls

Over half of women in Zambia have experienced physical or sexual violence. Oxfam is working with diverse local partners to end this. I Care About Her, which has been running since 2012, engages men and boys as allies in the fight against violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The program is making waves in Zambia. A national television and radio talk show spark debate and discussion about gender inequality and VAWG each week, and community discussion groups give men a space to learn about violence, take action to change, and convince their fellow men to do the same. School groups challenge girls and boys to act against VAWG from a young age. Mass marches have seen thousands of men taking a stand against violence against women and girls.

Even the Zambian government is paying attention. Oxfam has been asked to mainstream the I Care About Her training methodology in colleges for police officers and teachers. The Ministry of Gender has been in touch with Oxfam regarding a proposal to roll the program out nationwide.

More than that, I Care About Her is making a real difference for Zambian women. Some areas where the program is being implemented now see fewer cases of VAWG, and women and men are able to have more fulfilling relationships. “Since this program, men feel they can express themselves,” says one I Care About Her champion from Linda Compound. “We talk more openly between us now,” agrees his wife.

'I Care About Her' March, Zambia, November 2013. Photo: Oxfam

Across Zambia, men are realizing the need to take a stand against violence against women and girls, and join women in the fight to end it. “We have always been taught that to be loving is to be weak,” says Solomon Jere, Deputy Inspector-General of the Zambian Police Force. “The first thing a man feels he must do when he is married is to exert his superiority. It is time to change.”

Edgar Lungu, now the President of Zambia, spoke at an I Care About Her march, attended by over 2,500 men: “If you think you are going to be macho by beating women... you are in a wrong generation. If you think you are going to impress your fellow men by beating your wife, you are in the wrong generation.”

Oxfam and partners are working to create a new generation: a generation of women and men who stand up against VAWG and work together to make Zambia a safer place for women and girls.

Oxfam is implementing I Care About Her in partnership with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf), Women in Law in Southern Africa (WiLSA) and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWEZA).

This entry posted by Alison Channon, Gender Justice Intern, Oxfam, on 9 March 2015.

For more information, please contact Chloe Safier, Regional Gender Lead (csafier@oxfam.org.uk) or Alison Channon, Gender Justice Intern (achannon@oxfam.org.uk).

Header photo: Men joining the '2,000 Men March' to publicly take a stand against violence against women and girls. Credit: Oxfam

Inline photo: Daughters, mothers, wives joined their brothers, fathers and husbands during the I Care About Her! 2000 Men March. Credit: Oxfam

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Read the full case study: I Care About Her

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Some quotes originally appeared in “Esther Freud on Zambia’s campaign against male violence” (Financial Times, February 2014), where you can also see more photos from the program.

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