Breaking the Silence: ESMABAMA’s Work to Combat Gender-Based Violence


 Elisa shared the situation of her neighbour, who was beaten by her husband. The women in the self-help group intervened: “Our neighbour’s husband threatened to beat us to death, showing us a machete, but we insisted and managed to make the family aware of the violence.”

Gender-based violence is a set of attitudes practiced against a person because of their gender. These attitudes cause physical, moral, emotional and psychological harm, among other things. These attitudes can cause the victim pain, fear, stress, depression, anxiety attacks or even suicide. Different gender entities can be victims of this type of violence, but it has a higher incidence in women and children in the communities.

Many women and children in the Estaquinha, Barada and Mangunde regions suffer violence at the hands of people close to them, including family members. In these regions, it is common for men to say things like “we are in charge here; this is how it has always been” implying that women should not have an opinion on various issues. The reality of violence isn’t confined to these regions; it mirrors what happens throughout Mozambique and the world in general.

What does ESMABAMA do about these situations?

ESMABAMA works in various areas, including preventing and monitoring cases of GBV. Our projects are also developed with gender in mind. So, our health projects “COHEMO”, “RECOMOSA”, and “Improving Health, Hygiene and Nutrition”, work with activists to ensure respect and integrity for victims. As part of these projects, we raise awareness among families and all the community and provide the necessary support in cases of violence.

In all these projects we have the support of activists, but the COHEMO project brings a new approach of self-help groups. These groups consist of 15 women who discuss topics about themselves and other women in the community, with a focus on cases of GBV. Women still suffering from trauma are then referred to mindfulness for more personalized psychological support to help them overcome their traumas and get back on their feet. The self-help groups are implemented in 20 communities and cover 300 women. By February, this project had sensitised around 5000 people about GBV, including 2779 women, 2221 men, and 42 people with disabilities. It should be noted that this project is still underway, and awareness-raising is ongoing.

Francisca Alfredo (fictitious name), a member of the self-help group in Mangunde, Chinhacata community, shared: “I’m a divorced woman, mother of two children, and I was my husband’s last wife after three others. My husband beaten me for any reason. Until one time, I fainted, and people took me to the health centre. The case went to court in Muxungue. I now live alone with my children; I was tired of being beaten up”.

students at the morning concentration to sing the national anthem

Other projects working in gender

We also intervene in the gender sector through the “Vamos Aprender” (“Let’s Learn”) and “InPower” projects. In the “Let’s Learn” project, we have the child safeguarding policy and work so that boys and girls have the same opportunities. To this, we hold sessions with the parents and educational guardians of the students of the 21 schools included in the project. This year we have already held two sessions, and 12 more are planned until December, for a total of 14. Through the meetings, we sensitise parents about respecting the rights of children, whether they are boys or girls. An average of 1,300 parents take part in these sessions. In each of the 21 schools, a person has been trained to be the gender focal point.

In the “InPower” project, we sensitise communities on respect for human rights, with an emphasis on people with disabilities with a focus on girls. The “InPower” project supports 81 students with disabilities in the missions of Mangunde and Estaquinha.

The work of the ESMABAMA’S activists

To energize our work and reach more people in the communities, we rely on the support of our 103 activists in Estaquinha, Mangunde and Barada. They challenge preconceived ideas, ideologies, and oppressive cultural norms. Unfortunately, reality clearly shows that gender-based violence is accepted by some local structures. To mitigate this situation, our activists work with community leaders so that they can become agents promoting protection and support for victims.

health activists in the community-Managunde

“My husband was very violent towards me...”

Maria told us that it was due to the intervention of activists that the situation tended to be minimized. “The activists’ visits and sensitization have been constant in my family, and the situation has tended to improve. I used to live in fear. I even thought about committing suicide because I couldn’t take it any more, so I’m very grateful to ESMABAMA for its support because today I can move on”.

In the area of gender, we rely heavily on the support of our activists, who know the community best and help us follow up on cases. It is important to note that in all the projects we implement, we always pay attention to gender issues. For the projects mentioned above, we have financial support from Austrian Development Agency, Caritas Austria, Caritas Germany, Pestalozzi Children Foundation and Ligth For the World. We are very grateful to our partners.

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Gender-based violence is a reality all over the world. Find out more about ESMABAMA's work in rural area.
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