Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Tearfund home

Embrace Equity to transform whole communities

Rhoda’s story highlights the importance of this year’s campaign theme for International Women’s Day – #EmbraceEquity.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 08 Mar 2023

A mother and daughter hugging one another.

Embracing equity will help to protect women and girls from exploitation and sexual and gender-based violence. Credit: Kieran Dodds/Tearfund

Trigger warning

Contains mentions of sexual and gender-based violence and suicide that some readers may find upsetting.

Equity isn’t only about salary numbers or job opportunities. It isn’t limited to the fact that women have value to add and their voices matter at the table in every sphere of life – business, church, community, family. The vital importance of embracing equity for women isn’t about sport or science or roles that were traditionally reserved for men. These elements all come into it – and all of them are crucial – but at the heart of it all, a lack of equity creates space for abuse. It leaves room for stigma. It allows physical, psychological and societal damage.

We embrace equity because it is just.

As Christians, we recognise that we are all created in God’s image. We all have equal value. We all were born to thrive.

Rhoda’s survival story

Rhoda Samuel is a widow who lives in Plateau State, Nigeria. At the age of 64, she has had a career as a primary school teacher, raised four children and is now a small scale farmer.

Rhoda is a survivor of domestic abuse.

She and her husband were married for 22 years until he died. For 16 of those years, ever since her husband started drinking heavily, Rhoda was subjected to violence at his hands.

‘My husband used to beat me even when I greeted him or welcomed him. That’s how bad it was,’ Rhoda tells us.

‘We embrace equity because it is just.’

Rhoda’s husband stopped providing for the family. She was left to handle the financial burden alone. As a result, her children couldn’t go to school because she couldn’t afford the fees. He also had a number of ongoing affairs with other women, which added to Rhoda’s pain.

But what could she do?

Suicidal thoughts

She contemplated suicide. ‘I felt worthless and didn’t know when this would come to an end,’ Rhoda tells us. ‘At one point, I wanted to put an end to my life.’

She also felt too ashamed to consider leaving the marriage because her father was a church leader who would not accept or encourage divorce – even though the situation Rhoda was living in was deeply destructive.

Rhoda says she didn’t want to offend or disappoint the people around her, and so she persevered silently.

Even after her husband died, Rhoda lived with the physical and psychological damage that the violence left. She says she wouldn’t wish what she went through on anyone.

Hope and healing from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)

Desperate, violent and painful situations like this are allowed to carry on often because of deeply ingrained patterns of gender inequality within societies and, as in Rhoda’s case, even within the church.

It’s a value question. And about challenging harmful inherited behaviours that may have persisted for centuries. Recognising this, Tearfund has developed a programme called Transforming Masculinities. This helps men and women within communities to better understand the roles and values of women to help build equity. It also addresses the inequalities that lead to and perpetuate the situations that not only exclude women’s voices from every area of life, but also allow for them to face abuse.

After being trained in the Transforming Masculinities approach through our local partner in her community, Rhoda was enrolled to become a gender champion and she also received psychosocial support and training through our programme, Journey to Healing. Now, she is using her experiences to make a difference in the lives of other people – particularly those going through intimate partner violence and other forms of gender injustice.

‘These training sessions transformed my life.’
Rhoda, gender champion and SGBV survivor

‘These training sessions transformed my life and also offered me the opportunity to reach out to others through the community dialogue sessions,’ says Rhoda. She has become an encouragement and an inspiration to young women in her community, who see her as a role model and come to her for counselling.

Transforming communities

‘This has helped to heal my wounds and also built my capacity to transform my community and I am so excited,’ says Rhoda.

Rhoda tells us that, through this programme, she has learnt to forgive the hurts of the past and forge ahead. Feeling strengthened in herself by this, she is now helping to transform relationships within her community by having conversations that get all members of society involved. Gender equity will not happen without the purposeful efforts of everyone. It is a community issue and the answer lies within our communities too – both on a local and on a global scale.

Rhoda’s hope for the future is to see her community freed from violence against women and children – a place where justice prevails and people are treated equally.

We share Rhoda’s hope. We long, with her, to see all people thrive and to fulfil their God-given potential.

‘I am now a transformed person and I am so happy to use my experience to touch the lives of others,’ Rhoda says. ‘The project has taught me a lot which I am sharing with others around me. I am now a happy woman.’

Sexual and gender-based violence and gender inequality are not God’s plan. But Rhoda is. And you are.

Please pray with us about gender equity

    • Pray for gender equality and justice everywhere around the world. Ask God to open eyes, hearts and minds to adjust inherited ways of thinking that are damaging and dangerous.
    • Pray for women and girls to access opportunities and have the freedom, in every context, to thrive and to fulfil their God-given potential.
    • Ask God to raise up men who will champion women. Pray that they will speak out against gender injustice and will help to build pathways and open doors that have been unfairly shut previously based on gender.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

Share this page

Share this page to spread the word and help support those in need.

Get our email updates

Learn about our work and stay in touch with Tearfund. Hear about our news, activities and appeals by email.

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.