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Transforming Harmful Social Norms in the Solomon Islands – A Research Project Launching Event

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To contribute to the global 16 Days of Activism campaign against Gender-based Violence, a launching event of a research project on “Transforming Harmful Social Norms in the Solomon Islands” was held on November 14th, 2017 at the Queen Victoria Women’s Trust Centre in Melbourne.

The collaborative project is being supported by Oxfam in Solomon Islands, Oxfam Australia, Monash University’s Jean Hailes Research Unit, and the Equality Institute, with funding from the World Bank-Sexual Violence Research Initiative (WBSVRI)’s Development Marketplace awards.  It builds upon the Australian Government supported Safe Families program in Solomon Islands, implemented by Oxfam and partners. It represents one of the first comprehensive, community-led primary prevention models to be designed by and implemented for Solomon Islands. The model facilitates sustained normative change by mobilising communities to understand the root causes of family and sexual violence, and to take action to address these causes.

The launching event featured Dr. Helen Szoke, Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia, who provided the keynote address. Dr. Szoke highlighted progress made on the Safe Families program in the Solomon Islands, which, she stated, “has had some strong results in reducing the incidence of violence in three communities, where there have been some important changes to gender norms, including, challenging unequal decision making, unequal household division of labour between women and men, and also challenging norms around masculinity and femininity.”

The event also included a panel discussion involving Anna Trembath, Senior Gender Advisor, Oxfam Australia, Dr Emma Fulu, Director of the Equality Institute, and Atenasi Wasuka, former UN Women Ending Violence against Women Team in Solomon Islands. The dialogue between the panellists and the audience provided an opportunity to focus on key issues around Gender-Based Violence, the social norms that perpetuate it, and the challenges of working in communities that are widely affected. The panellists emphasized the need to fill the existing evidence gap, for instance, through documentation studies of effective interventions being carried out by communities in the Pacific region, including contextually-relevant approaches to inform strategies for expanding effective program in geographically-dispersed communities.

It was attended by representatives of the NGO sector including organizations that work to eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls in Australia, and Solomon Island’s Australia Award recipients.

For more information on the Transforming Harmful Social Norms in the Solomon Islands Project, visit:

https://www.monash.edu/sustainable-development/networks-and-partnerships/oxfam-monash-partnership