Advocates aim to end violence

Advocates with their placards and banners march along the streets of Suva during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign in 2015. Picture: FILE/JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Men will be engaged in a dialogue to end violence against women and girls at the Tanoa Waterfront Hotel in Lautoka today.

This is part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC), where 25 men working as male advocates between Sigatoka and Rakiraki will participate in the one-day event.

FWCC coordinator Shamima Ali said the event coincided with the December 6 anniversary of the Montreal Massacre – a day marked during the campaign to commemorate the deaths of 14 young, female, engineering students who were shot dead by a gunman at the Montreal University in Canada in 1989.

The day was originally the White Ribbon Day where men took responsibility for their own violence and ending other men’s violence against women and girls.

Ms Ali said the dialogue would include traditional leaders, village heads, advisory councillors, ex-police officers and community leaders in the Western Division who had already worked as male advocates.

“The aim of the dialogue is to revisit principles of engaging men, review the role of male advocates, look at lessons learnt, share case studies, address challenges in this work for men, their role in the Government’s National Action Plan (NAP) for the prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls and map a way forward in the involvement of men to end violence against women and girls,” the human rights activist said.

She said the centre’s male advocacy training promoted introspection and thinking around women, equality and the human rights of women in every sphere of the man’s life including the home, community, traditional setting and workplace.

FACT FILE:

Male Advocacy Program

  •  Developed by the FWCC in 2002 (Male Advocacy for Women’s Human Rights and Against Violence Against Women program)
  • Commonly known as Male Advocacy program, designed to work with men in questioning and refl ecting on their own individual behaviour on gender inequality and violence against women, before they could support efforts to address violence against women and girls.
  • Three-stage program. From the initial group of 30 participants who undertook the program 18 years ago, 12 are still actively advocating against violence against women and girls.
  • Around 200 men continue their advocacy and remain in touch with the centre.
  • A crucial element of these programs has been the training of men from key agencies such as the police, military, community workers, chiefs and religious groups or faith-based organisations.

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