Applying Cultural Principle of Respect to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls

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Reviving the traditional Samoan Culture of male respect for women and girls, is the main focus of the partnership project by the UNESCO and Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) funded by the Spotlight Initiative to help eliminate violence against women and girls.  

In taking ownership of the project focus, SVSG had taken the global #WithHer Campaign and localised it, modifying its title to #SamoaWithHer.

The 12-month project is fronted by the SVSG Juniors, the youth sub-group of SVSG, as part of the UNESCO Spotlight Initiative.

The program will see YOUTH, putting the Spotlight on RESPECT – Faaaloalo – to help eliminate violence against women and girls.

The project builds on the rationale that while the Samoan culture supports male respect for women and girls, our society has been undergoing changes. 

These changes have created a different reality that legitimises violence, while traditional practices shift to the acceptable norm, that it is ok for a man to beat his wife.   

The culture of violence and abuse of girls has therefore reflected a change built on the erosion of traditional values. 

 

SVSG says this project is an attempt to bring the values to life as living traditions while empowering survivors of violence to take charge of their lives.

The objectives of the program are to:

  1. Empower young women and men with knowledge of women’s rights and skills to analyse gaps in services caused by misogynistic beliefs;
  2. Strengthen young women’s networking and exposure; and
  3. Enable use of a social media platform to promote international networking for knowledge sharing.

The expected outcome would be behavioral and mentality change amongst the youth on aspects of the Samoan culture of respect, that if revived, would assist in eliminating violence against women and girls. 

It involves mentoring activities for the youth, setting up virtual knowledge platforms on social media, and promoting international networking.

It is fronted by 250 Youth Social Animators, selected from more than 50 church and village youth groups in Samoa, registered as SVSG Junior members.

It will see the SVSG Juniors, once again, connecting with its international Breaking the Cycle of Violence (BreakIN) partners namely Centre for Health & Social Justice (India), Youth First (Madagascar), Emancipator (Netherlands), and CERUJOVI (Spain); and regionally, with the Alliance for Future Generations (Fiji) and EI8HT Sports (New Zealand).

“We here at SVSG are excited by the opportunity to take this innovative approach, whereby the youth and culture are looked at, to effect behavioral and mindset changes, and help to eliminate violence against women and girls”.