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SPC commemorates International Anti Violence Day

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

SPC commemorates International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW)

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia, Friday 23 November 2007 – A week of gender awareness training for staff at SPC ended today with the commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW), also known as White Ribbon Day.

SPC staff marked the day ahead of time with a ‘World Cafe’ event, where they tackled the question of how to end violence against women.

‘World Café’ is an interactive method of holding group discussions on important questions. As the name implies, it involves a discussion in a relaxed environment over a cup of tea or coffee.

SPC Communications and Public Relations adviser, Rosita Hoffman, who led the event, says the method is an innovative way of tackling complex issues: ‘World Café is a lot of fun, and at the same time it promotes constructive and enlightening conversation. Participants discover new insights into the questions and issues that are most important in their life, work or community.’  

Linda Petersen, Manager of SPC's Human Development Programme, which coordinated the week's training and IDEVAW commemoration, says SPC deliberately scheduled awareness training on gender and sexual harassment for its Noumea staff just prior to this important international day. 'Globally, negative gender stereotypes are largely responsible for many forms of violence against women. This violence is a major stumbling block for economic, social and cultural progress. Challenging society’s stereotypes and combating gender inequality and injustice will help our communities achieve their full development potential.’

Ms Petersen says SPC has an organisational responsibility to show leadership on these issues.  ‘It is my hope that the training will give staff a better understanding of how they personally can make a difference in their own and others’ lives.’

On Friday afternoon, SPC is hosting a World Café event for a group of secondary school students from Do Ka Mo High School in Noumea. The students will reflect on the issue of domestic violence. One in four women in New Caledonia is a victim of such violence.

The Human Development Programme, in association with local agencies, associations, and government departments, is also coordinating IDEVAW events in Solomon Islands and Kiribati, where it is implementing a study on Gender-Based Violence and Child Abuse funded by UNFPA and AusAID.

On 25 November, church services around Kiribati will focus on the theme of violence against women. The official opening of the 16 Days campaign, hosted by the Minister of Internal and Social Affairs, will be held on 26 November in Bairiki Square in South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. This will be followed by 16 days of activism in locations around South Tarawa and the outer islands.

Solomon Islands will begin its commemoration of IDEVAW on 25 November with an ecumenical service and candlelight vigil for the silent victims of gender-based violence and child abuse. The service will be held in the Cultural Village in the heart of Honiara and will be opened by Permanent Secretary Jane Waitara. 

This event will be followed by 16 days of activism around Honiara and in each provincial centre. Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, Ethel Sigimanu, will launch the campaign in Honiara on 26 November.

Background information - White Ribbon Day and 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence

White Ribbon Day was created by a handful of Canadian men in 1991 on the second anniversary of the massacre of 14 women by one man in Montreal. They began the White Ribbon campaign to urge men to speak out against violence against women.

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW), and invited governments, international organisations and community organisations to organise activities on that day to raise awareness of the issue. The white ribbon was adopted as the day’s symbol.

The campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, originated in 1991 at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, based at Rutgers University in the American state of New Jersey. The campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December. During this period, activities highlighting the problem of violence against women are organised daily. The 16 Days campaign has been a tool to raise awareness that violence against women is both a violation of human rights and a major health concern.

ENDS

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