16 days of activism: strengthening family ties to break the cycle of gender-based violence
24 November 2021
Each year, from 25 November (Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day), an international campaign takes place to challenge violence against women and girls.
Latin America has the highest rates of gender-based-violence (GBV) in the world, with just six countries representing 81% of global cases. During the early pandemic cases surged, as women and girls experiencing abuse in their homes, found they had nowhere to go and no-one to turn to.
In Nicaragua, through a local organisation, the Mary Barreda Association, CAFOD is supporting teenage girls who are at risk of gender-based violence or at risk of or living in situations of sexual exploitation, and their families, to stand up for themselves and have alternative means of providing an income, through training and formation.
Changed relationships and increased confidence
Kleyri lives in northern Nicaragua with her mum, brother, sister, brother-in-law and her little niece. Like many teenage girls, she is vulnerable to the risks of gender-based violence. She suffered from a lack of confidence and knowledge about what she could do to prevent it.
Kleyri is coming to the end of a three-year training and formation process. She told us how, when she was first invited to participate in this process, she wasn’t enthusiastic at first, mainly because she didn’t know much about it. But her mum convinced her to go along, and she is so glad she did! She found the sessions really practical, providing information about the risks she may encounter but also what she can do to face these risks. Importantly, she spoke movingly about her changed relationship with her mother, and how her very ways of thinking, behaving, and even speaking are now different.
“I didn’t use to pay my mother any attention. I’d ignore her advice, but now I listen to everything,” Kleyri says, and tells us how her relationship with her family has changed. “I am more confident in telling them about things, even if these are personal, in talking to them about anything that’s not right or that is bothering me. I talk about things with them to find a solution.”
Alternative ways to earn a living
Our local partner stresses the importance of supporting young girls to find healthy means to support themselves and their families. Kleyri has received hairdressing and beautician training as a way of providing an income, doing something she enjoys. She told us how the lessons she has received have helped her understand how to run a small business venture, look after its finances, etc.
This is not, however, her final goal. She’s about to finish secondary school and wants to go on to study nursing at university.
Do what you know is right
“How does that fit in with the beautician training?” we asked. For Kleyri, working as a beautician is a means to an end. It’s to support her studies, and to help her mum provide for the family. She’d love to have her own house one day, to work and to be able to afford what she needs. She stresses the importance of what she now knows and tells other teenagers: “Talk to your mum, your family, to someone you trust. Only do what you know is right.”
Kleyri is so grateful for the help she has received from CAFOD supporters through this project and asks God to bless you all. She wants to become a nurse so that, in turn, she can help others: “If I’ve got something that might help them, then I give them my attention – I’ll pass on my knowledge to help them.”
During these 16 days of activism, our partner is highlighting measures to prevent sexual abuse, gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS, and is promoting healthy living practices. We ask for your prayers for the young teenagers and families they work with, so that they are empowered to live a life free from violence.