Feeling inferior. Being ignored. Having limited control over decisions in her family. This was the situation Sen, 31, experienced every day.
Her husband, who is a fisherman in rural Cambodia, didn’t place any value on her and constantly belittled her. Sen had been living in this situation for a long time and had no idea how to deal with such treatment from her husband. Unfortunately, these types of gender-based violence are not uncommon among households where gender stereotypes and a culture of patriarchy still exist.
This all changed for Sen when she joined life skills training with other women in her community. Every week when she attended a community savings group, she learned skills to help her communicate and negotiate at home and improved her ability manage the household with confidence.
"It was frustrating when I first showed pictures from the training to my husband as he aggressively responded that it's waste of time,” shares Sen. “He thought I was ignorant and reprimanded me for spending time at training instead of doing household chores.
“However, this did not discouraged me. I keep attending regularly and kept applying the lessons I learned at home. For example, after learning maths as part of the financial literacy training, I could do better calculations when selling pigs, chickens, fish, shrimp, and crabs. I was able to communicate and negotiate with customers better. I know how to do bookkeeping and family budget planning. I have been able to make my own money by rearing more livestock and saving—this has helped me to make extra income so I am not just depending on my husband to earn money.
“Once he saw all of these changes, my husband started to change his behaviour and treat me with more respect. He now values me much more than before."
Sen had found this had made a big difference to her situation at home. “My husband now listens to me more than before. He helps me with household chores, looks after the children and has even encouraged me to attend any community meetings or training opportunities. I now contribute to all the decisions we make at home and my husband now trusts me,” Sen concludes.
Sen is thankful that she has had this opportunity to change her situation for the better. “I have been able to build myself a new future; I have become a stronger woman able to deal with any challenges I may face.”
Sen received life skills training as part of the PACE in the Community project, funded by Gap Inc. Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement training was provided alongside CARE’s VSLA community savings groups which are funded by the Australian Government.