The Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) is an independent women’s rights and civil society organisation based in Port Vila, established in 1992. VWC’s goal is to eliminate violence against women and children throughout Vanuatu. To achieve this long-term vision, VWC has a national program to prevent violence before it occurs, and to assist women and children living with this problem now. This is done through the national VWC Network including:
- the main centre of VWC in Port Vila;
- 5 Provincial Branches – Sanma Counselling Centre (SCC) established in 1995, Tafea Counselling Centre (TCC) established in 2001, Torba Counselling Centre (TOCC) established in 2011, Malampa Counselling Centre (MCC) established in 2015, and the Penama Counselling Centre (PECC) established in 2017;
- a rural volunteer network of 39 Committees Against Violence Against Women (CAVAWs) which undertake local community awareness activities to prevent violence, and assist women and children living in remote communities to end the violence in their lives; and
- a national network of trained male advocates (also volunteers) who work closely with and are accountable to VWC, the Branches and CAVAWs, and who apply a women’s human rights perspective to their day-to-day work within their organisations and communities.
VWC’s nation-wide program has several integrated
components and strategies. The
core strategy has always been to provide an effective and
confidential crisis counselling service for women and children
victims/survivors (Box 1). This aims to empower clients to
make their own decisions about how to deal with the violence
in their lives, and to claim their rights and access justice,
including by providing individual legal advice and advocacy.
This feminist strategy informs all other aspects of VWC’s work
to eliminate violence against women and children.
Since the outset, VWC has worked to prevent violence against women and children, including by raising community awareness that it is a crime and violation of human rights. VWC’s prevention approach has focused on building understanding of the nature and impact of the violence, and the fact that it is caused by gender inequality. Legal advocacy for policy and legislative change is another important strand of VWC’s long-term prevention work, as well as training other agencies to understand the causes and consequences of violence against women and children. These strategies aim to improve the responses of other agencies when they are called upon to support and respond to women and children living with violence, and to challenge and change the attitudes and behaviours that fuel gender inequality.