Solomon Islands has a high prevalence rate of violence against women with nearly two in three (64 percent) ever-partnered women, aged 15-49, having reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. With support from Pacific Women, World Vision is working on addressing this serious issue by challenging conservative religious attitudes and practices that may be contributing to the high level of gender based violence (GBV) in the country.
Channels of Hope, a World Vision project in Weather Coast and Temotu, has been partnering with Christian faith leaders, community leaders, women’s groups and youth in 30 communities since 2013, to enhance their understanding of GBV and support their stand against violence. The project is in its second phase (2015-2017).
The Channels of Hope methodology was originally developed in Africa to promote community support in dealing with HIV and AIDS. Experience showed that using biblical teachings to change negative attitudes towards marginalised groups such as People Living with HIV and AIDS can be adapted to challenge other negative cultural norms including around gender. World Vision has adapted this methodology for gender to address GBV.
“We find that faith leaders have a strong position in the community and can influence attitudes around gender, and affirm the value of women and men as equals,” said Ms Koisau Sade, World Vision Gender Coordinator.
As part of the project, 30 Community Hope Action Teams have been set up in communities to respond to incidents of GBV.
A recent evaluation by University of Queensland found that in the Weather Coast communities, 56 percent of people reported a decrease in GBV, while in Temotu, 61 percent of community members saw a decrease.
“Before the project began, 59 percent of Weather Coast respondents disagreed with a statement that the Bible says men are superior to women. After the project, this number rose to 78 percent. There was also a reported 34 percent increase in the disagreement with the notion that the Bible says that men are superior to women,” said Ms Sade.
One of the participants shared with the evaluation team: “Growing up, I accepted that I am lower than a male. Until going through this workshop, I didn’t realise that I am just as valuable as a man.”
In addition to financial support from Pacific Women, World Vision also receives assistance from the Australia NGO Cooperation Program, to expand the Channels of Hope project to the Malaita and Makira provinces.
“The World Vision gender program is expanding to build on this to address economic empowerment, women in leadership and meaningful participation in government programs,” said Ms Maria Adelaida Alberto, World Vision Gender Program Manager.
Article prepared by World Vision.