Article by Jackie Vicksman

Since 2008, the UNFPA has been supporting “husbands schools,” where facilitators lead conversations and lessons with men in local communities in order to improve their general understanding of women’s unique experiences and hardships. Lessons focus on women’s health risks, empowerment, and human rights. The schools serve as a component of the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend project (SWEDD), a region-wide program financed by the World Bank and implemented in seven of the countries that make up the African Sahel region. Its objective is to reduce intimate partner violence, expand girls’ education, and generally improve the social standing of women and girls. One such school in the Mamboué village of Burkina Faso has had strong results. The school meets weekly, with 16 men and 2 facilitators. One woman whose husband participates in the program spoke of how his work improved their relationship. She explained that prior to his participation, “there was discord in [her] household,” and after, “[they] don’t have as many issues. Ever since he attended this training, [they] have rekindled the spark.”

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