With the theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”, World Vision in Solomon Islands, alongside representatives from its partner agencies and volunteers from communities in and around Honiara, joined a public procession to demonstrate their commitment to advocate for gender equality on International Women’s Day. While World Vision in Solomon Islands has been addressing violence against women and gender inequalities since 2011, with both successes and lessons learned in tow, there is still much progress to be achieved.
According to a previous study by the Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety, 64% of ever-partnered women aged 15-49 reported physical and/or sexual violence in the last 12 months. 73% of women believed a man was justified in beating his wife in some circumstances; only 18% of women who had experienced violence reported they actually sought help from health services, shelter and legal advice or from people of authority.
World Vision’s most recent gender-based violence initiative, Channels of Hope for Gender (COHG), funded by the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) works alongside churches and communities to encourage more respectful behaviours that value women, men, girls and boys, and to promote messages of gender equality and non-violence, drawn from Bible-based teachings and principles.
Recognizing the need to ensure approaches to gender-based violence prevention are sustained by the communities it serves, World Vision mobilizes community leaders and members to form Community Hope Action Teams (CHAT). CHAT members are equipped to play proactive roles in preventing and addressing the triggers of violence against women facing their respective communities. All of World Vision’s initiatives across the Solomon Islands seek to address gender inequities to the greatest extent possible, recognizing that gender issues pervade every sphere of life, and every sector; toward ensuring no women, and no girls are left behind, such intentional measures are absolutely necessary. In joining the procession along with other advocates, World Vision celebrates alongside other advocates what progress has been achieved for women and girls, but recognizes there is still much that needs to be done to address such a pervading issue.
As part of a special staff program to mark International Women’s Day, World Vision’s Operations Manager, Marista Kapini, challenged staff with a question and a thought to mark the International Women’s Day: “Just imagine a world without a woman, what would you think this world would be like? We must take time to reflect on our grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters and women who walk long distances to fetch water for their children, women who work long hours in the gardens to feed their children, women who walk their children long distances to get an education, women who cared for you, fed you, nurtured you and women who went a long way through rough paths, silently, just to protect you for the betterment of your future. Whatever we do as World Vision staff, we should know that we’re bringing little lights of hope into the lives of our community members, especially women and children. We must look beyond what others see and continue addressing and advocating for gender equality and celebrate women’s achievements each time.”