According to studies, intimate partner violence – defined as physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse – is the most common form of violence experienced by women in relationships throughout the world. It is estimated that about one in every three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime.
This high rate of violence against women needs special attention, and it can’t be ignored. Luckily, Dr. Shelley Lees and her colleagues at Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit (MITU) and the London School of Hygiene over the past 10 years have been working to find a solution to this common problem among women. This involves women attending in groups ten gender training sessions which were held in a convenient location within their community. This training was aimed to help them gain skills and knowledge to challenge physical and/or sexual violence from their male partners.
Recently, Dr. Lees and colleagues published part of their continuing work in the Journal of Culture, Health & Sexuality. This report provides information which helps to understand how gender training is helping women to change their attitudes and overcome violence. The study interviewed a subset of women who participated in a large trial implemented by MITU (called the MAISHA trial) to find out if it is possible to reduce violence among women in Mwanza city, Tanzania. From women’s views, gender training, which seeks to develop political awareness and transformation, can promote change amongst participants through a collective learning process. And this change brings a sense of confidence, worth, and power among women who participated in gender training to enable them to challenge violence.
The findings from this study bring hope to the fight to end violence against women in Tanzania.