The Scottish Government has awarded £1,338,480 over four and a half years to a new Oxfam project aimed at tackling sexual and gender based violence in Rwanda, as well as supporting the victims of it..
The new funding is part of a wider package from the Scottish Government to support a number of projects through the International Development Fund. It comes after Rwanda was identified as one of the Scottish Government’s core partner countries.
Oxfam’s project will directly support 3,000 people by strengthening sexual health services, raising awareness of rights in communities and facilitating support groups for victims of gender based and sexual violence.
Research conducted by Oxfam and its partners shows that over half of women in Rwanda aged 15-49 have experienced sexual and gender based violence although evidence shows such crimes often go unreported.
Although Rwanda is a world leader in certain aspects of gender equality, with women making up 64% of parliamentarians, sexual and gender based violence remains a major problem in the country and is one of the most commonly reported crimes.
Oxfam’s project aims to build on the progress already made by the Rwandan Government to eradicate sexual and gender based violence and to promote sexual and reproductive health rights.
Patrick Wajero, Country Director of Oxfam in Rwanda said: “This funding from the Scottish Government is hugely welcome and will help stamp out the scourge of sexual and gender based violence in Rwanda. The Scottish Government’s support for Oxfam’s work will enable and empower thousands of Rwandans to live safe and healthy lives free from violence and fear, both now and in the future.”
Working with local partners, Oxfam’s new project will target specific districts in the Southern and Western provinces of the country. It will help train local health workers on the psychosocial needs of victims of sexual and gender based violence, as well as helping to engage men in sexual and reproductive health initiatives.
The project will also set up support groups for victims and help promote women’s economic empowerment. A lack of access to money can leave women vulnerable to violence. The project will help encourage economic independence by promoting entrepreneurship, as well as through savings and loan initiatives. In addition, 350 women will be helped to access microfinance to help them start their own businesses.
Importantly, the project will also help change attitudes towards sexual violence and equip women to challenge cultural and social norms which can perpetuate violence and discrimination.
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland added: “Around the world, the majority of people living in poverty are women. That’s why women are at the heart of Oxfam’s work both in Scotland and around the world.
“In Rwanda, sexual and gender based violence creates a significant barrier to progress for far too many women. These vital funds from the Scottish Government will support efforts to tackle this.
“The people of Scotland should be proud that by funding projects like this, we are playing our part in supporting women live their lives in safety and to progress out of poverty.”
Oxfam’s project is expected to begin next month.
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For more information please contact Rebecca Lozza, Media and Communications Officer, Oxfam Scotland, on 0141 285 8875 / 07880785159 or RLozza1@Oxfam.org.uk