From where I stand: “The violence that marked my childhood made me the activist I am today”
Adão Paía is a young man who dislikes all forms of violence. Living with abuse since he was five, he feels that he had no childhood. Today, he works to convince men and boys in his community to share domestic responsibility with women and reject gender-based violence.
Date: Monday, August 21, 2017
My childhood seemed like a punishment. I was sent to live with my grandmother in her farm when I was five years old, along with my sister.
My grandmother was abusive. I had to wake up at five in the morning to finish chores before I could go to school. I swept the yard, cleaned the house, washed dishes and did the shopping. When I came back from school, I had to work even more. If I complained, my grandmother would beat me. My sister suffered similarly.
After my sister ran away, unable to stand the abuse, I finally had the courage to ask my family for help. I was fifteen at the time. My uncle, who lived in Maputo, invited me to live with his family. It was the beginning of a new life for me.
The violence that marked my childhood made me the activist I am today.
I was trained as a youth facilitator by HOPEM (Men for Change Network) and joined their initiatives to engage men and boys to promote gender equality.
I started participating in a HOPEM project called “Men in the Kitchen”, supported by UN Women. The project encourages men’s participation in domestic activities and holds dialogues with them to prevent violence against women. When my friends and neighbours first saw me cooking, they called me a sissy. They believed it was unmanly to work in the kitchen and that women were the only ones who belonged in a kitchen.
But I didn’t let their comments affect me. I kept challenging their ideas. I convinced three of my neighbours to join the Men in the Kitchen project. I have convinced some friends to join the initiative as well, and to help with cooking in their own homes.
My favourite dish to make? Rice and beans.”
Adão Paía, 25 years old, is an activist at Horizonte Azul Association and at the REDE HOPEM, a network of civil society organizations in Mozambique, working to promote gender equality and positive masculinity, supported by UN Women. Since 2013, Paía has been part of the Men in the Kitchen programme, which combines community dialogue and reflection on gender-related topics with workshops on nutrition, education, agro-processing and preparation of nutritious recipes based on local resources. Paía also works with young people in schools as part of the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, and met the former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, during his visit to the Sansão Muthemba School in the outskirts of Maputo in 2013. Adão Paía’s activism is a testament to how men can be allies in the pursuit of gender equality and contribute towards Sustainable Development Goal 5, which promotes gender equality and aims to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.