#ImamsForShe in Burundi

In Burundi, #ImamsForShe has been operating with the partnership of AICNDH since 2015. What began as an intellectual campaign has now become a fully-blown grassroots initiative, with a radio show that reaches nearly 9.6 million listeners weekly, educational camps for girls and young women, and entrepreneurship training for young women.

This Programming is made possible with support from Wallace Global Fund

 
 
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Educational Workshops

AICNDH began organizing educational workshops for imams, scholars, and religious leaders in 2016. The purpose of these workshops have been to empower leaders and change-makers in Burundi’s Muslim community to oppose misogynistic teachings and practices. The most recent of these workshops took place on May 18, 2018, in the Cibotake zone. The workshop lasted four days and trained 30 change-makers.

 

Comparative Survey on sChool Attendance

In November 2018, AICNDH released a report on a survey that it conducted in Burundi, specifically in the Muslim communities of Bujumbura Capital city, Muyinga (especially in Muyinga Commune and Butihinda) and Rumonge center. The purpose of this inquiry was: 1) To know the number of children of basic school age who attend school; 2) To specify the school drop-out rate of Muslim girls and boys in families surveyed; 3) To know the reasons that push Muslim girls and boys to drop out of their studies in these families; 4) Estimate the number of school reintegration of Muslim girls and boys; 5) To be informed of the Muslim community’s understanding of the consequences of school dropouts. 300 questionnaires were distributed in total, and were completed between September 18-21, 2018. The survey found that a disproportionate number of school dropouts were due to early marriage, which indicates a cultural paradigm — informed by problematic interpretations of religious text — which restricts the education and empowerment of girls. To access the full report, please contact info@mpvusa.org.

 

#ClubsForShe

How do you defend women’s rights? One proven method is to teach women and young girls to stand up for their own rights. That is what #ClubsForShe is designed to do. Launched in 2017, #ClubsForShe are sports camps for young women and girls, run by AICNDH. The camps serve as safe spaces where participants talk about their experiences, lives and aspiration. In this safe space, participants learn about their rights from #ImamsForShe champions, who base their curriculum off of the Qur’an, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The goal of the camps is to sensitize girls to their rights as encoded in international law so that they can defend them against religious teachings and communal practices that seek to undermine women’s dignity and rights.

To date, #ClubsForShe has transformed the lives of 90 girls. Of these alumnae of #ClubsForShe, two have received full scholarships to college from the U.S. Embassy in Burundi. We are looking forward to continuing to expand this program.

 
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Radio Show La Femme En Islam

Since 2017, La Femme en Islam is a weekly radio show hosted by AICNDH’s president, Imam Khalfan, and a #ImamsForShe Champion. As the title “Woman in Islam,” suggests, the show discusses how Islam and the Qur’an support women’s human rights, such as the right to education, healthcare, and equal work opportunities. Each week, a women’s rights activist joins the show and offers her or his insights and experiences to the show. Why radio? Because it has a proven track record as an effective tool for disseminating information to a wide audience. Right now, La Femme en Islam is in its third year, started on one radio station reaching 5 million and expanded to three national radio stations in Burundi, and reaches a weekly audience of just over 9.6 million listeners. It is #ImamsForShe’s broadest-reaching initiative, and one that we hope will continue growing in the months to come.

 

University Workshops

AICNDH organized two two-day workshops on women’s rights for university students in partnership with eight universities. The workshops covered four dimensions of human rights, as outlined by the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): 1) Gender equality in Islam; 2) Women’s right in Islam; 3) Access to education; 4) Empowerment of the Muslim woman. Before these workshops, most attendees believed that girls should not go to school, that it was haram (forbidden) to attend school in the UNESCO system, and that gender equality was not Islamic, other things. After the workshop, there was a palpable difference: attendees learned how the Qur’an affirms women’s rights, that women’s rights are not proscribed by Islam, and that it is important to share and explain these lessons to others in Burundian society.

 

Sermon Series

Between 2015-2016, #ImamsForShe Champions in Burundi gave a series of 12  Friday sermons (Khutbas) at their mosques, in support of women’s rights. The sermons focused on four themes: 1) How the Prophet treated Women with Dignity; 2) The Right to Education; 3) The Role of Women in Humanitarian Work; 4) Women’s Rights and Dignity in the Qur’an. As a result of this very public advocacy of women’s rights, AICNDH won the support of the Mufti of Burundi.