Engaging Pacific Men to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls

Date: Monday, September 16, 2019

Joint Press Release: Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and UN Women Fiji MCO

Sigatoka, Fiji – Violence against women and girls can be stopped if all members of society, especially men and boys, condemn it and take action.

Pacific-based research indicates for every nine in 10 sexual offence cases[1] women are the victims or survivors. With men and boys almost always the perpetrators, the statistics reflect the patriarchal nature of Pacific societies and the need for more men to take responsibility, to change attitudes and behaviours, and to become more engaged in ending gender-based violence. 

The Pacific Regional Dialogue on Engaging Men in the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls gathers more than 40 participants from seven Pacific countries’ governments, civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, plus communities of male advocates for women’s human rights. International guest speakers are from Australia and United States.

Participants from 7 Pacific island countries gather at the official opening of the Regional Dialogue

The Regional Dialogue was formally opened by Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete. 

The Regional Dialogue, led by the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women, is a collaboration between the Fiji Women Crisis Centre (FWCC) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO). FWCC funding is through the Australian Government and UN Women Fiji MCO’s support is through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), funded by the European Union and Australian Government with support from UN Women.

The concept of engaging men to end violence against women is not new to the Pacific, with FWCC running introductory courses since 2002 – almost twenty years ago – and since then developing a comprehensive training module used locally and regionally.

Shamima Ali, Coordinator of FWCC and Secretariat of the Pacific Network Against Violence Against Women said: “Empowering women is a key part of the equation, but to permanently end domestic violence, it is essential that men change their behaviour, too.” 

“I believe that men can change their behaviour — there are some good men, and these men need to influence other men,” Ms Ali said. 

“To be clear, men make up over 90 per cent of the perpetrators of violence perpetrated against women and to develop solutions, in particular when attempting to change ingrained attitudes which promote and perpetuate gender inequality, targeting men becomes crucial.” 

This Regional Dialogue aims to build on the Six Pacific Principles by seeking agreement on how these principles can be applied to programmes and initiatives that aim to engage men in efforts to stop violence against women and girls. The Six Pacific Principles to guide prevention of violence against women and girls were developed and agreed at the 2016 Road to Change - A Pacific Regional Consultation on Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls funded by UN Women. 

Successful methods of engaging men used in other parts of the world, along with global research on what works to prevent violence, will be presented by international guest speakers Dr Michael Flood, internationally recognised researcher on men, masculinities and violence prevention plus activist and educator based at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and Melissa Scaia, Director of Global Rights for Women, a leading voice in the global movement to end violence against women and girls, and former Director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (the Duluth Model).

The forty practitioners and experts attending are from Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Dialogue facilitators are from the the Pacific Network Against Violence Against Womenand UN Women Fiji MCO. 

A highlight of the Regional Dialogue, is the inclusion of the first major, regional forum in the Pacific to have a focus on perpetrator programmes – being held within the final two days of the Dialogue. 

“At UN Women, we see men and boys as crucial partners and advocates to prevent violence against women and girls,” said Abby Erikson, Manager of the UN Women Fiji MCO’s Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) programme. 

“Work on engaging men and boys for gender equality is anchored in the belief that men and boys need to take responsibility for change, and to question their power and how this influences their actions and words at the personal, interpersonal and societal level,” Ms Erikson said.  

“A critical objective of the meeting is for participants to understand the different initiatives in the region and to bring agencies, governments and other stakeholders together on agreed principles for working with men to end men’s violence against women. Common principles and using best practice and evidenced based approaches are necessary in order to create individual and society level changes. create more impactful approaches to EVAWG.” 

Through the Dialogue, participants will also contribute to efforts by the Pacific Network Against Violence Against Women and UN Women to support Pacific initiatives to end violence against women and girls by engaging men and boys, especially in the private and faith-based sectors.

More information: 2016 Regional Dialogue – The Road to Change 

 

Media Contacts: 

  • Shamima Ali, Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) | Phone: 999 2875 | Email: fwcc.shamima@gmail.com
  • Jacqui Berrell, Communications and Media Specialist, UN Women MCO Fiji | Phone: +679 777 9097 | Email: jacqui.berrell@unwomen.org   


BACKGROUND INFORMATION:  

The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women recorded in the world – twice the global average with an estimated two in every three Pacific women impacted by gender-based violence. Along with high rates of violence – a violation of human rights – women and girls in the Pacific region experience constant and continual inequalities including low levels of participation in decision making, limited economic opportunities, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and [other] rights.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) is the only organization based in Fiji raising awareness on violence against women as a human rights violation. In addition to their preventative work, FWCC has been a leader in providing a variety of direct services to women and children who have experienced violence in Fiji as well as the Pacific region, such as crisis counselling and legal, medical and other practical support services. FWCC provides 24/7 telephone crisis counselling for women and children in Fiji who have experienced, or are at risk of, domestic violence (3313 300)

The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors.  The EUR19.5million partnership is primarily funded by the European Union (EUR12.7m) that supports all three outcome areas of the programme, with the Australian Government providing targeted funding to the second outcome (EUR6.2m) supported by UN Women (EUR0.6m). 

The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).  

 


[1] The Balancing the Scales: Improving Fijian Women’s Access to Justice Research Report 2017 revealed that for every 9 out of 10 sexual offense cases (rape and attempted rape; indecent assault; child sexual abuse) reported to the Fiji Police, women and girls were the victim/survivors.