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Celebrating 20 years of Girls’ Self Defence in New Zealand

Celebrating 20 years of Girls’ Self Defence in New Zealand

New Zealand girls have had the opportunity to learn self defence at school for 20 years, through the government-funded Girls' Self Defence Project which began in October 1996. Since then more than 140,000 girls have participated in courses run by the specialist teachers of the Women’s Self Defence Network Wāhine Toa. These courses have been run in more than 850 schools covering the length and breadth of the country and are fully funded by the Ministry of Social Development, with recent additional support from ACC to reach more girls.

The self defence teachers’ network is celebrating the 20 year milestone this weekend at its national hui. A function for invited guests is being co-hostedon Friday evening by the Women’s Self Defence Network and Women’s Refuge.

The value and impact of the self defence courses has been captured in the independent research report, “Skills for Safety” released earlier this year. This produced compelling evidence of the effectiveness of Girls’ Self Defence when taught by trained and accredited teachers working to empower girls and young women. Researchers Associate Professor Jan Jordan and Dr Elaine Mossman of Victoria University of Wellington have commented that “Providing skills to maximise the safety and security of all girls and women living in New Zealand should be a national priority if we are committed to creating a society characterised less by violence and more by gender equality”.

Alison Broad, spokeswoman for the Women’s Self Defence Network Wāhine Toa, says that the Network is delighted to have reached the 20 year milestone. “We have self defence teachers who have taught Girls’ Self Defence throughout all of these 20 years, with some individual teachers having taught more than 15,000 girls each over that time. We know that learning self defence has changed lives and saved lives for some of the girls and women we have taught. It is a privilege to be able to work with girls and women to make New Zealand a less violent country.”


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