"India Case Study - STEP"
Burundi Case Study – Umwizero At-a-Glance: Gathering baseline information using participatory methodologies, establish context and domains for change, which become indicators of women’s empowerment Background CARE Burundi has targeted the promotion of women’s empowerment as an intervention axis. Relevant programs are being implemented for the most marginalized populations in an effort to reinforce their social, economic, and political status. The concept of empowerment is new to the Burundi vocabulary and few citizens have shared the experience within the Burundi context. CARE’s first attempt to determine empowerment indicators was completed at the same time as the Umwizero (A Positive Future for Women in Burundi) program baseline study. The indicators did not reflect the local context - they were generic indicators that might reflect some global socio-cultural context. The meaning of “empowerment” can change depending on time and space and that the standard empowerment indicators that CARE uses are not always applicable to every community. Thus CARE Burundi began a study of men and women’s perceptions and definitions of empowerment within the local context of the Umwizero program, which would serve to define behavior that is likely to reflect the situation or state of mind of the empowered woman and to establish behavioral change indicators and baseline data for the Umwizero program. Context Burundi is gradually emerging from somber period of their history with the end of a 12 years civil conflict that touched the lives of every Burundian and disturbed every social strata. This period has led Burundians to turn a page in their history and permanently end a war that discriminated, marginalized, denied the rights, and excluded certain groups of society, and to begin a long process towards stability and development. In Burundi’s post-conflict period, it is important establish the foundation for stability based on the respect for people’s rights and to counter all forms of discrimination. The Burundian woman was, and remains, subject to exclusion. Her participation in the decision making process is tied to the prejudices and well-established cultural taboos. These taboos limit a woman’s use and protection of power so that she does not have the same rights as her brothers. The Burundian woman, like her Burundian brother, dreams of a more stable economy, a respect for fundamental rights, and to participate in her country’s decision making process on every level. How empowerment is defined locally Participatory research indicated that Burundian women understand empowerment as being associated with the following domains: Marital Stability: The problem of legal marriages was a factor in disempowering many women in Burundi. Burundi culture gives men the right to exert power over every part of women’s lives and unfortunately, tradition dictates law. In the civil code, the woman has the same right as a man to manage household affairs. In spite of this, many men marry outside the civil code so to avoid the requirements required in legal marriages. Women see marriage laws in part as a way to claim access to the same advantages as their husbands and also as a way to protect themselves if their spouses break the law. Women’s Increased Income: The question of women’s contribution to household goods via cash or her capacity to acquire household necessities without relying on her husband reflects the fact that women believe that they remain subject to male authority when they totally rely on their husbands to fulfill their basic needs. Certain men who participated in the focus groups feared that women’s financial autonomy would lead to independence and the reduction of men’s power. Participation in Managing Household Goods: When the man alone decides what goods are purchased and how they are used, and takes the lion’s share of benefits, this is a source of numerous household conflicts. But in households where the man accepts joint management of the assets, women see themselves as partners and conflict is reduced. Participation in the Community Decision Making Process: Women want to be part of the structure that mitigates conflicts because women they often feel excluded and unfairly judged. They also seek participation in the Community Development Committees (CDCs), which control access to production and information. Further, they would like to be elected to serve in the administrative structures that delegate power to other community groups. Gender Based Violence: Women are often the object of domestic violence because Burundi culture and mores. Both men and women cited sayings that supported men in beating women. Women must keep silent about the attacks for fear for of marginalization within society. The principal forms of violence are beating and wounding, polygamy, and abandonment. Sexuality and Reproductive Health: Culturally, women are not allowed to talk about sex with their husbands, nor are they allowed to refuse their husband’s sexual advances, no matter the circumstance. Due to the lack of communication about sex, there is insufficient access to reproductive health and HIV services and information. Access to Information: Women suffer from a lack of information sources including: the radio, associations, political meetings and technical training, and health centers. Women’s isolation is linked to their heavy workloads, and leaves them in a very weak position. On the other hand, men access information by sitting down for a beer with friends, at administrative meetings, and other community structures they belong to. Individual Leadership: Women’s empowerment largely depends on women’s capacity to approach and surmount political, social, and cultural barriers. It is difficult to separate women’s acquired and innate skills. Through the women’s interviews, women stated that they believe their leadership depends, to a large degree, on their individual capacity and competencies. However, other women, and most men, attribute women’s leadership to their access to training and information. Research Design and Methodology The study used participatory methodologies. First, the team conducted focus groups separated by gender and by hills (villages) of the Umwizero target zone. The focus group participants determined the areas in which they would like to see changes. They elaborated both in what sense and to what extent these changes would have to take place to lead to empowerment. Second, CARE analyzed the focus group results. The team used the ideas that emerged from analysis to formulate indicators of empowerment. Third, CARE articulated the indicators into a questionnaire, which the team administered to 389 women in the Umwizero program’s three intervention provinces over the course of a week. A computer technician analyzed, using SPSS, the statistical data from this research. The Umwizero staff that led this study edited the observations. Focus Groups The Umwizero staff ran the focus groups in the seven zones of the program’s intervention region. Researchers organized men’s and women’s focus groups with 8 to 15 each Women led the women’s focus groups and men led the men’s focus groups. The team reviewed the complete set of responses in the focus group reports and then regrouped the gathered information by domains within every day life. At every level of analysis, the men and the women’s responses remained separate. The analysis team skimmed the focus groups result tables and pulled out the main ideas from the documents. It was necessary to group the results to avoid duplicate elements, but also so that the indicators were comprehensive and took all the community ideas into account. The frequency of responses did not influence the decisions, but allowed the team to note which questions were more or less important to certain communes. For certain key behaviors, this process allowed the team to discover key domains in which communes need assistance to achieve a project’s objectives. Questionnaire From the data collected during focus groups, the Umizwero staff and program partners reformulated the characteristics of women’s empowerment into indicators. The team then divided these indicators into four or five levels of empowerment and translated each level into a series of specific questions. The questionnaire was pilot tested on 18 women, then adjusted for the actual data collection. Data Analysis Variance analysis (ANOVA) was used to compare the collection sites by province and by different categories of women (e.g., young women married for less than five years, women married 10-20 years, widows, women over 40 whose husbands were still living, and Batwa women [pygmy]). A scoring system was used to determine whether the level of empowerment was weak or strong. Indicators of empowerment used to formulate the questionnaire: 1. Community empowerment a. Decision-making b. Membership in organizations 2. Economic empowerment a. Basic necessities b. Access to household goods c. Control over household goods d. Women’s management of their personal resources 3. Individual leadership a. Access to information b. Literacy c. Participation in community meetings d. Membership in associations 4. Health a. Reproductive health b. Family planning 5. HIV/AIDS a. Understanding the risks b. Testing c. Prevention strategies 6. Hygiene 7. Negotiating and managing relationships a. Sexual relations within a married couple b. Relations between a wife and her in-laws 8. Knowledge of laws and the penal system a. Codes and conventions b. Perceptions of legal marriage registration c. Treatment of women’s rights violations 9. Perceptions of gender-based violence 10. Cultural barriers Further Reading Burundi SII (Women’s Empowerment Indicators in Northern Burundi) See Annex of SII for tools CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS