Using coffee ceremonies to address intimate partner violence in Ethiopia: Evidence from Unite for a Better Life

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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major global health challenge that harms many dimensions of women’s well-being. IPV can increase women’s risk of depression and other health problems including HIV and substance abuse, and adversely affects their economic status. While 30% of women worldwide experience either sexual or physical IPV in their lifetimes, in Ethiopia that figure is a staggering 70%.

Unite for a Better Life (UBL) is an IPV prevention project recently implemented in rural Ethiopia. Meetings take the form of an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, a culturally established forum for community discussion and conflict resolution, and led by trained facilitators from participating communities. The program consists of 14 sessions conducted twice weekly.

Since underlying gender equalities are often key drivers of IPV, UBL emphasizes the harmful impacts of gender norms that reinforce men’s power over women. Topics range from gender-sensitive modules on joint decision-making, division of household labor, and healthy communication to more IPV-specific sessions on HIV prevention, condom use, sexual consent, and nonviolent conflict resolution.

Photo credit: Unite for a Better Life

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