World Vision Solomon Islands Community Channels of Hope (CCOH) project recently held a three-day leadership empowerment workshop for communities in the weather coast of north-east Guadalcanal.
Supported by the Australian Government, the World Vision CCOH project works alongside churches and community members in Temotu and the Weather coast of Guadalcanal to cultivate community-driven solutions to addressing violence against women and children.
Forty members from nine communities comprising of church pastors, community chiefs and elders, women and youth leaders attended the workshop facilitated by the World Vision CCOH team in Marau station.
The sessions covered multiple components related to the four primary forms of domestic violence: physical, emotional, sexual and economic violence.
"The objective of the workshop was to enable church leaders to share positive messages about family relationships with their congregation and community.
"The chiefs, women, and youth leaders can use a tool to address social issues that affect families in the communities and combat domestic violence or gender-based violence," shares Jackson Tasa, World Vision's CCOH Project Manager.
"All participants are encouraged to practice what they have learned from this workshop, and so far I can see a strong connection with their participation and feedback during group activities," he added.
In the Weather coast,gender-based violence and cruel child disciplinary methods are a standard way of practising power and maintaining control in the homes. However, participants of the workshop expressed their eagerness to learn and understand more, since it is so relevant in their everyday lives.
"I am a rigorous father at home. I have a whip stick in the house, and it is a normal practice to discipline my children by whipping them when they disobey. Sometimes my wife gets the whip if she disobeys, but it is good to learn from this workshop on how to control power and authority in the family," says Jefferey, a husband and father of three. The lessons on 'Circles of Influence' gives him the knowledge to teach his children about negative influences that can affect his family.
"These things are new to me, but I can relate to them as they are already happening in my home. I see that this knowledge is also necessary to share in my community, and I feel the will to play that role in sharing it," he added.
Mary-Anne, youth and single mother, also shared her positive experience. "As a young mother, I instantly related to the topics covered. I witness it happen in our homes. Its good to be able to identify the causes of our actions and understand how to control them. It encourages me to see what is important in my relationship with my child and to identify the root causes of violence in the homes," shared Mary-Anne.
CCOH workshops guide faith and community leaders through biblical teachings about the value of women and girls, challenging their beliefs and behaviours around gender relations, and equipping them to act on gender injustices in their communities. During the workshop, the chiefs, church leaders, women group leaders, youths and elders raised their voices to share their experiences and opinions about gender-based violence and gender equality practices in their respective communities, and even in their homes.
All participants have appreciated the knowledge shared and gained, and have expressed their eagerness to receive more empowerment to enable them to lead the positive changes that they already identified in their areas of authority.