In September 2013, EASSI took her advocacy efforts a notch higher to directly target men through a one year pilot Project, the Men Engage to end Sexual and Gender Based Violence, a sub project of WOGE. The project is implemented in the districts of Uganda, namely, Kabale, Rakai and Busia Districts. The Men Engage Project is a complimentary intervention of the WOGE project that promotes the belief that targeting men as change agents in the fight against sexual and gender based violence is a long overdue strategy. 90 community Male champions identified by their communities were trained and working as change agents in their communities. They use the men to men approach of counseling fellow men to stop the practice as well as preach family unity and respect for women and girls.The project also works with government officials such as the Ministry of Gender and local government in order to entrench the project within the communities for future sustainability. These champions include religious leaders, Local council chairpersons, leaders from various institutions including health facilities, district officials and youth councilors from the selected districts. Involving community leaders is the first step towards supporting and linking SGBV survivors to legal referral networks as a way of creating pathways for them to report their cases and attain justice.
The Male Champions were able to develop Referral pathways for preventive and legal support for SGBV survivors and Community Bye-Laws relevant to each district. This project was strengthened by support from the Solidarity for African women’s Rights Coalition which targeted the two sub-counties of Katuna and Kamuganguzi in Kabale District, Uganda, and worked with the Male Champions against GBV and community duty bearers. The project was implemented using a community participatory approach that enabled the involvement of community members in identifying common causes of SGBV in their community, the effect of SGBV on women and girls and possible prevention measures against SGBV.
It is also confirmed from the feedback and documented I-stories that cases of SGBV have to some extent reduced and the public is now more aware about women’s rights. Some men in the community that were reluctant in the past, to support their partners have developed a positive attitude and have started to support their spouses to engage in economic and social activities. As a result of involving various male duty bearers on the follow up committee of the project, there is increased vigilance among leaders to address SGBV in their communities.