Changing Male Perception Toward Domestic Duties in Rwanda
Although Rwanda has registered remarkable improvements in gender equality, some men continue to shun domestic duties as reserved for women. Those who get involved in domestic chores often end up being ridiculed by fellow males as “inganzwa” (a reference to a husband who is subservient to his wife), a tendency that discourages males from supporting their wives at home.
Elaste Mbonimpaye, a resident of Kabusunzu village in the Kayonza district, vowed to support his family and change this status quo.
Mbonimpaye supports his wife, Médiatrice Nakure, at home but is always dismayed by the attitude of fellow males toward domestic chores. Luckily, he was selected by his community to become a male gender champion. These are groups organized by the USAID-funded Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze activity that mobilize males to engage in gender- and nutrition-related activities at the household level. Through current community volunteers, including 150 male gender champions, 150 female role models and 100 youth for change, Hinga Weze mobilizes communities to adopt dietary diversity and proper nutrition. The aim is to improve the nutritional status of women and children and increase yields and incomes for 560,000 farmers.
In addition to being a male gender champion, Mbonimpaye joined a Hinga Weze-sponsored care group in September 2018 and received training on gender equality and female empowerment. The training focused on equitable decision-making regarding family incomes and equal division of labor. Leading by example, he showed other members of his community how this new knowledge changed his own household. He subsequently trained 30 farmers in his group and their spouses on how to make joint decisions and divide household chores.
His wife, Médiatrice Nakure, is also evidence of this success, demonstrating how increased support with childcare enabled her to have enough spare time to join a women’s savings group. She invested $40 (40,000 Rwandan franc) of her savings into a small retail shop selling fresh foods and vegetables.
“Now, I am closer to my children and my wife is able to generate income for our family,” observed Mbonimpaye.
With their savings, the couple were able to acquire three additional plots of land, pay for community health insurance for the whole family and buy scholastic materials for their children.
The family is still counting their gains. Nakure has since gained the confidence to make decisions at home, which has opened many windows of opportunity for their family to prosper. She now also has spare time to educate other women on how to manage household affairs and to take care of herself.