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Mr. You Saroeun helps his wife on the farm instead
of drinking and committing violence against her.

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

From United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's official message:

Violence–and in many cases the mere threat of it–is one of the most significant barriers to women's full equality.

On this International Day, I urge governments and partners around the world to harness the energy, ideas and leadership of young people to help us end this pandemic of violence. Only then will we have a more just, peaceful and equitable world.

In our work around the globe, we have seen a definite connection between poverty and gender-based violence. Living in hunger and poverty puts stress on the entire family, and these conditions can lead to domestic violence, particularly against women.

As a condition of receiving gifts of livestock and other agricultural inputs, participants of Heifer projects must undergo trainings on numerous topics, including gender and family issues. As a result of the increased sensitivity to gender issues combined with improvements in family living conditions, it is not uncommon for us to learn that husbands who once committed violence against their wives have stopped.

From Community Empowerment for Poverty Reduction Project in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia :

"After attending the gender training, I am ashamed of the domestic violence I committed on my wife," said Mr. You Saroeun. He admitted that drinking and domestic violence brought nothing to his family, except a waste of time and property, as well as making his family fragile. He no longer leaves his family to find a job in other towns and provinces, as he has a stable job on his farm. "Staying with family, I have plenty of time to look after my children–one of them is attending high school now."

From Community Empowerment for Poverty Reduction Project in Takeo Province, Cambodia:

"I was disregarded by villagers because of my act in plummeting my family into hell through wasting the family's property and committing domestic violence," said Soy Pha. He added, "But, I have changed after attending trainings provided by the project, in particular the Cornerstones training, which brings harmony and transformation to my family. Now my family is respected and recognized by the community. The family value is priceless."

Cambodia is only one of many countries where Heifer has seen the transformation of a family suffering domestic violence into one of harmony. Nepal, Vietnam and Ukraine are other examples.

In addition to training husbands and sons in gender and family issues, another approach of Heifer's that has been shown to improve the status of women within both the family unit and the community is engaging the community's women as the primary project participants. The self-help group (SHG) is an effective tool in community organizing, and women-only SHGs are particularly effective at empowering women, especially in Asia/South Pacific. Learn more about and help fund projects using this approach in India, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.


Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.