Over 30 participants from the six parishes and their satellite churches in the Diocese of Central Melanesia (DOCM) in the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) have attended five days of ‘Male Advocacy Training’ at the Desmond Probets Hall, St. Barnabas Cathedral. The training aims to eliminate violence against women and girls, which is in the scope of ACoM’s strategic plan Pillar five which is to ‘Promote gender equality and peaceful communities’.
“The reasons for gender based violence are multiple but one of the key ones is gender inequality and how this is manifested in different spheres of life,” said ACoM’s General Secretary Dr. Abraham Hauriasi.
“Men are free to disagree, but in many households women do the most jobs from looking after the children, cooking, washing the dishes and clothes, cleaning the house and many more,” he continued to say.
He went on to highlight the statistics that 64% of women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced physical or sexual violence or both, by those who are close or known to them in the Solomon Islands. Of these, 70% decided not to seek help while only 17% sought help formally. Therein lies one of the greatest challenges, the culture of silence and the normalisation of violence.
Introducing the training, one of the three facilitators, the Reverend Raki Tigarea from the Institute for Mission and Research at the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji, highlighted the story on Genesis, where man and woman are created by the same God in Unity.
“Our being and our identity as man and woman, male and female, is equally, profoundly and wonderfully rooted and founded in God,” he said. “This is a biblical and theological truth that must not and cannot be denied, ignored or explained away,” said Revd Raki.
“To be created in God’s image refers to the capacity and ability given to humans to be able to reason and think, and to use our intellect or mental capacity and ability,” he stated.
“Man and Woman have equal standing, equal status, equal worth and equal dignity and equal responsibility to care for God’s creation. Neither man nor woman has the right to claim a higher or lower status and place than the other,” he highlighted.
“Any man who regards any woman as inferior and says that woman is of lesser good or lesser quality than man, is clearly going against God’s declaration of woman also as stated in the Genesis creation story both man and woman are ‘very good’.”
From day one discussions by the participating priests, women and youths, concluded that ‘culture’ stands out to be the main barrier to gender inequality in many societies and islands in Solomon Islands.
However it was well presented by Reverend Raki and another facilitator Mr. Paulo Baleinakorodawa of “Transcend Oceania” also based in Suva, Fiji; that ‘culture’ was created by us human beings and does change or can be changed over time. But the culture of the Kingdom which was created by God through the Bible will never change.
Culture is our beauty in which we live day in and day out. But we should get rid of some of our cultural practices which continues to bring inequality and injustice in our societies, islands and the nation as a whole.
The objectives of the weeklong training was to create safe space for conversations on masculinity, eliminating violence against women and girls through the reinterpretation of Biblical texts commonly used to justify violence, and to understanding issues, challenges and a way forward for male advocacy in the ACoM and Solomon Islands. By the end of the training, participants were expected to be good advocators of gender equality.
(Article taken from Anglican Church of Melanesia’s Facebook page)