Empowered2Protect

Lead Organization: Help a Child
Partners: Help a Child, Invi, L’Université Evangélique en Afrique
Duration: January 1, 2019 – August 31, 2020
Goal: The Empowered2Protect initiative prevents sexual violence among 400 women in Kabare Territory, Democratic Republic of Congo, through the introduction of the ‘Invi Bracelet’.
Highlight: The bracelet is a non-violent self-defence device that produces a foul smell to repel perpetrators and alarm others. Awareness-raising activities, including community sessions about causes and prevention of violence, are part of the project. Moreover, research on the bracelets’ applicability and impact is conducted through satisfaction surveys, interviews and focus group discussions.

About the project

1 in 3 women worldwide experience sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in their lives.

Especially in areas with fragile social structures, as a result of conflict or war, people are often
exposed to an increased risk of SGBV.

NGO Help a Child and Invi started a public private partnership to increase the resilience of people living in humanitarian settings. In the Empowered2Protect project the Invi self-defence bracelet is combined with an inclusive community program that focuses on spreading knowledge and awareness on SGBV in South Kivu (DR Congo). The Invi bracelet offers direct protection as its wearer can release a foul odor to repel perpetrators. The community awareness sessions provide strategies and build knowledge that empowers both women and men to take a more active role in preventing SGBV.

Currently, a full impact study is undertaken by the l’Université Évangélique Afrique. Preliminary data shows that the bracelet increases feelings of confidence and safety and many community participants expressed they feel better equipped to fight SGBV. During the program, two incidents have been reported in which the Invi Bracelet prevented an attempted rape.

Testimony by project participant

I left my house at 3.30pm to go to the market. Along the way, I met three men, two wearing military uniforms and carrying weapons. They asked me where I was from and I told them I was coming from the market to buy food. Then they told me that they wanted to eat the food I was holding. I told them that food was not sufficient but if they were really hungry, we could share it.
We (me and the three men) continued our way and after a moment we met another soldier who asked these soldiers that I too had to give him cigarettes. I kindly told him that I had no money to buy cigarettes for him. Then he shouted at me, raising his voice and hit my right hand with a stick. Two of the four men jumped directly on me, brutalized me and took off my clothes. I was almost naked except for the panties that I wore as underwear. The battle began between me and the two soldiers, one holding my two arms. As it was not possible to open the Invi Bracelet with my hands, I used my teeth to open it. It was smelling so terribly that the two men wondered what happened, coughing and closing their nostrils. I seized that occasion to run away in the direction I could find houses. During the escape I crossed a river to go to a friend’s place so that she could give me clothes to wear. After telling her the whole story, she accompanied me to my home.”

Learning Questions

  • Are participants feeling able to protect themselves against SGBV?
  • Are participants mentioning that they  play a role in preventing SGBV in their community?
  • Are participants showing increased knowledge on SGBV and issues related to it?
  • Does the bracelet increase the confidence and feeling of safety of a wearer in a humanitarian context?
  • Does the design need to be further adapted to fit the cultural context? If yes, what adjustments are required?
  • Does the way the bracelet is introduced and used among crisis-affected communities need to be adapted? If yes, what adjustments are required for inclusion in future programming?
  • How can the bracelet sales price be reduced (adaptation design and/or donation model)?
  • Does the bracelet increase the confidence and feeling of safety of aid workers (DRC JR members) in a humanitarian context?
  • Are participants able and willing to share their gained knowledge with others (‘Teach a Friend)?
  • Does the bracelet increase the confidence and feeling of safety of the ‘Friends’?
  • How can this project be scaled?

PROJECT PHOTO'S

CONTACT US

Contact lead organization Help a Child
Marga Baaijens
E: Marga.Baaijens@redeenkind.nl