23 March 2010

Press Release – Pacific Men Learn to  Advocate for Women’s Rights

Advocating for women’s human rights is a challenge and taking on cultural and religious views on the issue presents even more challenges. To assist in this work the Fiji Women Crisis Centre is working with a group of 31 men from the Pacific to trial  a handbook which will assist in them in their work as advocates. “This handbook has come together as a part of the larger work we are doing to get men involved in our efforts to eliminate violence against women”, said Shamima Ali, Coordinator of FWCC.

The Handbook which has been developed by a masculinities expert from Australia uses materials which have been trialed in several countries of the Pacific including Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu. A reference group made up of key women’s advocates from the Pacific has contributed to the development and fine tuning of the material. “Our experience as trainers in this area for many years contributes to the issues under intense discussion such as culture and religion in the Pacific context’, said Ali.  According to Ali, this work has been more of an evolution with progress built on other milestones over the years. “This Handbook will assist these men in being effective communicators on the issue of gender equality and how to respond to the challenges posed by religious and cultural arguments”, said Ali. The Male Advocacy on Women’s Human Rights Program was developed by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and its Network members and is specifically for the Pacific context.

This training meeting brings together 31 men from 5 countries in the Pacific region and these are men who have undergone various stages of training and who are working alongside women’s organizations in their own countries. Facilitating the training is Mr Stephen Fisher who is an expert on masculinities. “We have men from Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea and all of them have been through an initial training with us and most of them have been through a second stage of the training with Stephen Fisher. The men come from different backgrounds and are in positions where they can influence other men and they use the knowledge and skills in their line of work”, said Ali. Participants include police officers, village chiefs, church representatives, youth workers and community workers.

The training meeting will officially end on Friday 26 March at 12pm at the Lagoon Resort, Pacific Harbour.

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