VWC’s goal is to eliminate violence against women and children throughout Vanuatu. In order to achieve this goal over the long-term, VWC’s program aims to implement effective prevention and response strategies to address the problem. VWC has always seen the prevention of violence and responding to it as closely linked and mutually reinforcing, particularly when engaging with local communities.
Over the years, VWC’s strategies have been developed and reviewed with the following key principles in mind:
- Learning from the experiences of women and children living with violence in Vanuatu, and reflecting on these to develop and refine counselling, prevention, advocacy and research strategies.
- Learning from regional feminist experience and good practice on how to address and prevent the problem of violence against women. This includes sharing experiences and reflections with the Pacific Network Against Violence Against Women and its Secretariat, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, and reviewing the experiences and practices of the international women’s movement to address the problem.
- Tailoring and developing new home-grown strategies for the Vanuatu context, while adhering to best practice principles.
VWC has an integrated, comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach to preventing and responding to violence against women and children:
- The program is designed to challenge and change the fundamental and underlying causes of violence against women and children, which are founded on gender inequality – unequal relations between women and men. It does this by explicitly promoting women’s and children’s human rights through all its strategies and activities.
- VWC’s crisis counselling is based on a human rights framework, and underpinned by a strong code of ethics, in addition to legal advocacy on individual cases to increase access to justice.
- The program is integrated, meaning that it aims to both prevent and respond to the problem, with multiple and reinforcing strategies designed to achieve both aims. VWC’s approach is grounded in women’s and girls’ day-to-day experiences of all forms of violence. VWC’s counselling experience informs and strengthens all its prevention activities, and its approach to research.
- The program is comprehensive because of its national focus on both prevention and response, and because several different strategies are used simultaneously to target multiple stakeholders over the long-term, and to hold them to account for their responses to survivors, and the messages that they convey in their own prevention efforts about the causes and consequences of violence against women and children.
- VWC’s approach to prevention is comprehensive and multi-faceted because it uses a range of different types of community awareness-raising, education, training and advocacy activities that enables it to reach and collaborate with a variety of different groups, and which reinforce each other over the long-term. This ranges from special event campaigns, radio programs, television advertising, newsletters, information-based community education materials, short talks that primarily aim to increase awareness and knowledge of the problem and promote a desire to learn more, and intensive 5-day community education workshops and trainings that are designed to change attitudes and behaviours. This approach enables VWC to match prevention approaches to the readiness of target groups to receive them; achieve both national coverage for the main key messages, as well as intensive targeting of key stakeholders and communities; and use different types of prevention activities to follow up with communities and organisations to reinforce behavioural and attitudinal change.
- The program is evidence-based because VWC’s national prevalence study has been used to target the major duty-bearers who have the greatest influence over preventing violence and responding to women in communities. The survey found that 43% had never told anyone about the violence, and 57% had never asked for help. When women do seek help from outside their family, they go mainly to chiefs (24%), church leaders (23%), health agencies (15%) and police (10%). Based on this data, VWC has made concerted efforts over many years to form and consolidate partnerships with these key stakeholders to work in collaboration with them to extend the reach of prevention messages and improve their responses to survivors.
- VWC’s approach holds men to account for their violent behaviour. VWC’s male advocacy program is based on the model of intensive training developed by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre through the Pacific Regional Network Against Violence Against Women. Men receive several week-long stages of training, and are selected for follow-up male advocacy training based on their commitments and actions to ending all violence against women and children. Accountability of trained male advocates to the women’s movement is a key feature of this approach, as is ongoing monitoring by VWC.
VWC’s national prevalence study provided sound evidence that VWC’s integrated, comprehensive and multi-stakeholder approach was effective. Places where VWC had been most active since its establishment had statistically significant lower rates of physical and sexual violence by husbands and partners than places where VWC had been less active:
- The combined impact of VWC’s integrated community education/ prevention, advocacy, campaigns and counselling work reduced women’s risk of violence.
- For example, women in Malampa province – where VWC had done less outreach and had fewer CAVAWs – were twice as likely to experience violence as those in areas where VWC had been working over many years.