16 Days Activism launched at Van2017 Festival Village

Vanuatu celebrated the 16 Days of Activism over the weekend in a festival atmosphere, with colourful hand-painting, speeches and music.

This important occasion was marked at the Festival Village, which was a part of the Van2017 Korman site, and was run in conjunction with the Games Test Event where eight of the 14 sports were on display and testing the venues and infrastructure took place ahead of the December 4 Games opening.

The 16 Days of Activism was launched with a word of prayer followed by official speeches by leaders of the Government and NGOs.

The Vanuatu Government’s Ministry of Land, Ministry of Justice and Community Services, Department of Women’s Affairs, Vanuatu Women’s Centre, Australian High Commission, New Zealand Defense Force and NGOs took part.

Director Dorosday Watson of the Department of Women’s Affairs opened the launch, acknowledging the Vanuatu Government, NGO partners, Van2017, youth and families.

“Today is the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism, when we think about the rights of our children of this very issue on different levels that is affecting all our communities in Vanuatu and that is violence,” she said.

“It is not only an issue that we men, women and the communities think about but is now becoming a development issue. Thank you to the organizations, to those of us that are constantly dealing with this issue.

“Every year we mark this day. The question now is, do you see this issue developing or do you see it reducing?

“The important question also is, what makes us think why we are celebrating this day today? We also know partnerships among government departments, NGO, Civil society,   are increasing because the figures are rising.

“The Department of Correctional Services for instance has reported the increase of figures every six months, especially in regard to violence against women and children. It makes us really think what we are doing,” said Ms Watson.

Invited leaders present were Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu, the former Head of State George Sokomanu, National Coordinator of Vanuatu Women’s Affairs Merelyn Tahi, a representative of the Vanuatu Christian Council, Vanuatu National Council of Women rep Wendy Garae, Australian High Commission, Care, and Oxfam.

The main question raised was whether each one was ready to take a stand to stop against violence against women and children.

An invitation to make a pledge to Stop Violence against Women and Children followed the speeches, with a mark of hands and messages on white calico symbolizing the fight.