Gender transformative approach will shape new Healing in Harmony project funded by the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT)
Program for trauma survivors will integrate men and boys in efforts to advance gender equality in the rural community of Mulamba, Democratic Republic of Congo
Make Music Matter has been selected as one of nine organizations to be awarded funding in the second intake of the FIT program, an initiative supporting innovative solutions to advance gender equality in the Global South.
The Healing in Harmony music therapy program was first launched in Mulamba, DRC in 2017 in partnership with Panzi Hospital. Since then, it has delivered positive results in addressing the anxiety, depression, and PTSD suffered by female survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Not only did the program impact participants, but it caught the attention of the local men and boys. They, too, have suffered trauma and are most often excluded from mental health interventions that address trauma in the conflict-ridden region.
This new project in partnership with Panzi and with the support of FIT, will fully engage men and boys in the therapeutic process, helping them to heal their own trauma while providing tools to help them recognize and break down harmful gender barriers.
The Panzi Hospital satellite clinic in Mulamba (approximately a two hour drive from the hospital in Bukavu) is the only healthcare facility in the area and serves multiple surrounding villages. In addition to a lack of resources and access to essential services, the community here faces constant threats of violence and health dangers including Ebola and HIV/AIDS. Another important factor in our Healing in Harmony program design is that perceptions of gender roles are more traditional and restrictive for women and girls than in urban areas.
It takes a village!
It’s widely recognized that a more inclusive and gender-transformative approach is needed to ensure sustainable change in attitudes and behaviour towards the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In Mulamba, the men themselves came forward and requested assistance to break the negative cycles in which they find themselves.
Those [men] who came forward very much want to be allies, caring family members, agents of change, role models, community leaders, and strong survivors. They realize that this is an essential step to end the violence and repair broken communities, but do not currently have access to the services and tools to do so.
– Shannon Johnson, Make Music Matter Chief Operating Officer
The re-imagined Healing in Harmony program will provide a safe space to discuss positive models of masculinity and gender equity. It will allow men and boys to:
– Address their own traumatic experiences
– Develop therapeutic and nonviolence coping skills
– Discuss positive models of masculinity
– Develop their understanding of gender equality
– Learn tools to support and empower their female family and community members who face stigmatization
As part of the research component, we’ll also be comparing the effectiveness of group-based therapy on male-only versus mixed gender sessions.
Watch this space for updates from the field.
Thank you to the Fund for Innovation and Transformation, the team at Panzi Hospital and Foundations, and our Healing in Harmony partners for their ongoing support as we make new strides to promote and protect human rights for all.
Artists from the Healing in Harmony program in Mulamba have emerged as the musical collective Cohorte Femmes Héroïnes. Follow them on Spotify and have a listen to their latest release Bulya Gurhi on A4A Records.