Creating a World without Violence

By Jenta Tau

Participants at the YWCA European Study Session, Budapest, Hungary

Jenta Tau from the YWCA of Solomon Islands is one of  the World YWCA intern for 2011. She shares with us her thoughts and her experience from Budapest, Hungary, where she attended the YWCA European Study Session in July 2011.

If this took place between States, it would be called war.

If this was an illness, it would be called an epidemic.

If this was an oil spill at sea, it would be called a disaster.

But it is something that is happening to women and considered a matter of everyday life.

Guess what it is?

It is violence against women – one of the main topics discussed and highlighted in the YWCA European Study Session held from 24th – 31st July, 2011 in Budapest, Hungary.

The aim of the study session was to share and build knowledge and skills for creating a safer world, a world without Violence against Women (VAW), through young women’s empowerment and leadership.

It was such a great learning experience and empowering week where more than 30 young women from the YWCAs and YWCA /YMCAs joined organisations from around Europe. A gentleman from the European Youth Centre in Budapest was one of the core facilitators together with 5 young women members of the Preparation team.

In line with this year’s theme, we learnt about the concept of violence, how we see or define violence and what are some of the ways we can approach it or help reduce it.

Research has shown that the most common form of violence against women is domestic violence. It also states that a woman is more likely to be beaten, attacked and even killed by her partner or former partner than by any other person. Domestic violence is not only a violation of the physical and psychological well-being of the women concerned, it is at the same time a direct attack on their human rights, and is also a criminal offence. It is a fact that at some point in your lifetime you may be a victim of violence or discrimination.

During the session we learnt about Human Rights in terms of Policies and Practices at different levels. We also explored practical tools of project management and design, from a gender conscious perspective in response to VAW and how to develop and strengthen our networks and advocacy skills at national and regional levels.

It was a very productive week and we understood that, even though much work has already been done, a lot more effort is still needed to address these issues. One of the key principles is that leaders, whether of institutes or communities, need to be educated and informed on violence and its impact as well as on protection, in order to know how to bring this disturbing phenomenon, which each victim will be faced with throughout her life, to the forefront.  As highlighted by Ms. Tove Liljeholm Johansson from Sweden, “No one knows a man who hits but everyone knows a woman who has been hit.”

Creating a world without violence is not only the responsibility of Governments, human rights activists or NGOs, it is everyone’s responsibility. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process which requires commitment and cooperation.