Australian Envoy Marks White Ribbon Day with Launch of Handbook
25 November 2011
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms Judith Robinson, today marked White Ribbon Day by launching the new Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre handbook Male Advocacy for Women’s Human Rights.
White Ribbon Day which is celebrated as part of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women attempts to raise awareness among males about the roles they can play to prevent violence against women.
Ms Robinson said violence against women can impact on their health and on their ability to actively participate in all aspects of community life.
“There is a growing consensus in violence prevention circles that to end violence against women, we must involve and work in partnership with men and boys,” she said. “It’s therefore encouraging to note that in many Pacific countries there is an increasing number of men who are demonstrating a willingness to work to end violence against women.”
Ms Robinson commended the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre for the work they have done, since 2002, through their male advocacy programs.
“The program in Fiji has involved influential male leaders and public figures and many of the participants have reported attitudinal and behavioral changes,’ she said.
“Australia is proud to have provided funding support towards this new handbook which will assist greatly in the efforts to train more men to be effective advocates for women’s human rights.”
Referring to the White Ribbon campaign in Australia, Ms Robinson said it focuses on encouraging men to speak out and swear an oath never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
“The campaign culminates on White Ribbon Day each year when men and women across Australia are called to wear a white ribbon or wristband as a visual symbol of their commitment and oath,” she said.
A Pacific Women’s Empowerment Policy Dialogue in Canberra earlier this month, found that two out of three women in the Pacific are victims of violence.
An Outcomes Document from the meeting which was attended by more than 130 Pacific representatives, including from Fiji, will be used by the Australian government when formulating budget allocations for development assistance.
Australia recently committed A$96.4 million over four years to combat violence against women. This includes A$25 million to expand efforts to end violence against women across the Pacific through financial assistance for empowerment projects and improved access for women to the judicial systems.