Creating Love in the Family
“It was easy for me to change. Once I started working together with my wife, the love we have for each other grew.”
Sharifa Ahmed is on of the men in CARE’s SPIR program that is learning how to break out of stereotypes and stand up to social pressure so that he and his family can have a better life. It may not seem like it, but these pictures demonstrate an act of incredible bravery. For an Ethiopian man, cooking in public with his wife is unheard of—a symbol that you are not a man. For Sharifa, facing up to peer pressure is worth the cost.
“I don’t care when people laugh at me for doing women’s work. Why should that matter to me? I am happy with my life and my family.”
It started with Daoura—Sharifa’s wife—who joined a CARE VESA (savings group) and started to think that her family could change. “Before that, I used to do all of the chores by myself,” she says. “Then I got a training on women’s empowerment and saw that things could be different. I went to my husband and asked him if we could start working together. He agreed, and went to one of CARE’s trainings for me.” The training inspired Sharifa.
“I learned there is no such thing as women’s work or men’s. There is just work, and we can do it together. She comes with me to the field at harvest time, and I will fetch water or firewood. Now we support each other.”
In fact, Sharifa’s favorite household chores are fetching water and cleaning the house—tasks he would never have done a year ago.
For Daoura, Sharifa’s change has opened a new world of possibilities. “Before, I was always waiting for my husband. Waiting for him to come home, waiting for him to decide what to do. All I did was sit in the house and take care of our children. Now that he helps at home, I can join the VESA and get loans. I can got to the market to earn an income, and Sharifa will feed and take care of our 6 kids when I’m not at home. This helps us improve our lives.”
One way their life had improved is that they are growing more food than ever before. Because they both get training and have access to loans, they were able to buy better seeds and tools this year. They both worked in the fields to make sure they got the best possible crops.
But for Sharifa and Daoura, the increased income and production are a small part of the benefits. What they like best is “Our love has increased.” That love is so apparent that other people are starting to copy them. Daoura says that more than 30 couples in their community are starting to work together more and have more equal partnerships. “Before, they used to laugh at my husband and say, ‘Why is he doing that?’ Now we are teaching others in our community how to be like us.”
About the Project
The USAID funded SPIR Program, led by World Vision in a consortium with CARE and ORDA, is intended to help households in the PSNP4 program achieve food security for their households through a combination of savings, diversifying their sources of income through income generating activities, and skills training that can help them graduate from food assistance. SPIR supports 526,444 direct project participants in the Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR regions of Ethiopia.