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JAYAPURA, December 7, 2016: Around 28 girls and boys aged between 13-15 years old sat in groups, discussing topics, selected to get conversation going and allow them to get to know each other better, such as what they like or dislike and what do they have in common. As an answer to the last question, a group wrote down in a flipchart: we all have mothers. “Yes, we all have mothers.. we don’t want to see them hurt or sad... we all want to make her happy and proud,” said a boy.

This group discussion was the initial session of the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) training, designed to foster male involvement (men and boys) in the Prevention of VAWG. It is a joint regional project by Partners for Prevention, involving UNDP, UNFPA, UNV and UNWomen with funding support from DFAT.

In Indonesia, two villages in Papua, Nolokla and Nendali, have been selected for this project because of the high prevalence of violence, especially VAWG. Cases of violence in the community stem from distorted concepts of masculinity that is expressed through alcohol abuse, high risk sexual behaviours, physical and verbal abuse. Men witnessing the abuse of their mothers in childhood also have a tendency to perpetrate intimate partner violence.

The Head of Jayapura District Planning Agency (Bapeda)’s Social and Cultural Division Jeffrey Koloay said deconstructing local community’s views about violence is needed and it might take time to see results. The project consists of 22 training sessions on youth empowerment, rights and gender awareness, interpersonal skill, instilling confidence, respect and discipline, among others with at least 140 participants, including 80 youth and 60 carers: parents and people who have influence over local youth. Through this training, it is hoped that participants will develop their knowledge and skills to act as facilitators to end VAWG in their families, schools and communities.

The Head of Jayapura District Bapeda Hanna Hiyakobi welcomed the joint UN initiative to address VAWG, while stressing it remains one of the district’s development priorities. “It is very common here. We need to continuously work together to end all types of violence, especially violence against women and girls,” said Hanna, adding that similar training should also be conducted in her office.

UNFPA Representative, Dr. Annette Sachs Robertson, explained that UNFPA will closely monitor the project in order to ensure progress and hoped that local stakeholders would get actively involved and contribute to the process. “We will document the process and the results so that if it is successful, with government and community support, it can be scaled up and replicated in other villages, districts and provinces.”