It was led by the Ministry of Youth, Women Children and Family Affairs (WYCFA) and supported by UN Woman, Safenet and a number of non government organisations.
The event started with a parade from PT109 to Gizo Hospital and back to the MSG complex where the official program was launched.
Representatives of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), Family Support Care Centre Representatives (REP) , Christian Care Centre representatives, Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (WYCFA), Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association , women’s groups, church Leaders and all the other stakeholders participated at the program.
The theme for the launch was ‘Family Protection Act Hem Protectim Umi Everi Wan.’
In his key note address Deputy Provincial Secondary (DPS) Patrick Toiraena highlighted that the launching of the 16 days activism program aims to end violence against women and children.
He further highlighted the importance of respecting one another especially men having respect for women and girls.
“Sadly for many of us, the notion of equal rights for men and women (and or children for matter) is a foreign concept. It is only in the past 10 or so years that the issue of women and children’s right has gained at least a foothold here in Solomon Islands.
“I tend to think given our very conservative culture, its advocacy too has struggled to have the momentum and make a meaningful impact on our society,’’ he said.
“As all or most of you would agree with me, for most our recorded history parental violence against children and men’s violence against wives was explicitly or implicitly condoned.
“Those who have the power to prevent and/or punish this violence through religion, law and custom openly or tacitly approve it,” he said.
He said the reason why violence is finally out in the open is that activist has brought it to the global attention.
“People like you who are helping to spread the message and it is through events like this is helping to mainstream and ostracize such violent acts on women and children. “So we are champions for making a difference in the lives of the people who actually matter to us- our very own women and children,” he added.
He said with the frequent cases of rape against girls and even infants more needs to be done to tackle such problems.
“This should be enough impetus for all of us to start looking at ourselves and see how we can be part of our or how we can contribute positively (however little) and make an impression by putting a halt to violence against women and children,,’ he said.
Mr Toiraena added the recently passed Family Protection Act should help reduce violence at homes.
“Whilst many of us may have the view that the Family Protection Act is gender based with a focus on women and children, in actual fact it is a family focused piece of legislation.
“It protects all members of the family who are domestically violated by another member can use the Safenet system which is a manifestation of the implantation of the Act itself.
“It provides avenues and ways for vulnerable people who are subjected to abuse by other members of their families to seek respite, help and perfection,’’ he said.
He further added that the Western Province Government (WPG) also recognizes the need for everyone to render support in providing a safe environment for children and women.
“As a government we also recognize that we cannot do it alone, neither you can do it alone but to successfully deal with the issue requires all stakeholders participation and mutual cooperation. It requires all us,” he said.
He thanked the organisers for staging the event as part of highlighting the importance of reducing gender-based violence.
The program ended with entertainment and awareness program throughout the day.
BY ULUTAH GINA