Fighting Violence Against Women & Girls Through Community Engagement in Indonesia
Grace, a national UN Volunteer with the Partners for Prevention (P4P) joint programme in Papua, Indonesia, discusses her experience volunteering to prevent violence against women and girls in her community.
Based on a nationwide survey, 2 in 5 Indonesian women (about 41%) have experienced some kind of violence in their lifetime.  In particular, over 33% of Indonesian women aged 15 to 64 have experienced physical and/ or sexual violence at least once in her lifetime.
According to findings of the United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence, in Jayapura, a city in the Province of Papua, Indonesia, 60% of men reported using emotional, economic, physical, and/or sexual violence against an intimate partner in their lifetime. Additionally, 23% of men reported having perpetrated rape against a non-partner, and 7% admitted involvement in gang rape. In addition, 60% of the men who said they had perpetrated sexual violence did so for the first time before the age of 20. The same study identified many risk factors for perpetration of violence against women and girls, such as abuse of alcohol, having multiple sexual partners, experiencing or witnessing sexual and emotional abuse during childhood (especially witnessing the abuse of their mother), and/or engaging in transactional sex.
To address these issues in Jayapura, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, International Planned Parenthood Federation of Papua (PKBI), and the Institute for the Study and Empowerment of Women and Children (LP3A) with support from the Partners for Prevention Joint Programme (P4P) initiated a project - Reimay (Reaching Papuan Prosperity) which engages adolescent girls and boys (aged 13-15), and their caregivers (parents, relatives, key community members) in participatory group sessions. These sessions seek to create a supportive environment for both adolescents and their caregivers where families learn to build healthy and peaceful relationships based on gender equitable attitudes and norms and prevent violence against women and girls. The intervention seeks to raise awareness about the issue in these communities and help build the capacity of local authorities and civil society to prevent it.
A critical component of the programme is volunteer engagement which is used to motivate participants to advocate for violence prevention in their own communities. This helps to generate and sustain the results of the programme after it has ended.
As the national UN Volunteer for the programme, Grace has been a volunteer community member of the programme for the past year. Responsible for coordinating the project, supporting the monitoring and helping to build capacity of the facilitators, she works with about 150 caregivers and adolescents, and advocates for prevention of violence against women and girls in her community. She also engages participants in activities such as drawing competitions and song contests, liaises with village leaders to speak about violence prevention in their communities, and mobilizes adolescents and their caregivers to ensure the programme’s smooth operation.
We spoke with Grace recently to ask her more about her experience supporting the Reimay project.
What motivated you to join the programme? “I am interested in preventing violence against women and girls, especially in my community because, I am a Papuan and I am a woman. I grew up watching my childhood friends struggle with domestic violence, and understood from my community that it was acceptable. Luckily, I was raised in a democratic, loving and caring family. My childhood experience has been my best strength when it came to tackling violence against women and girls in my community. I can do something that can affect others to experience what I did in my childhood and in my daily life.”
Have participants experienced any fundamental change in their understanding of violence in their communities? “We had a female facilitator who was experiencing domestic violence”, she recalls. “When she first started attending the training sessions, she did not know how to deal with the situation and did not have the courage to speak up to her husband. After the training, she learned about the serious repercussions of violence against women and understood that she had rights, which led her to finally leave her husband’s home and live a violence free life with her children. Now that she knows she has a choice, she wants to share her story with others who also experience violence in their lives to realize their rights and speak out against violence”.
According to Grace, the programme has had a positive impact on her life as well. “For me, volunteerism is about helping my community without asking for anything in return. However, the programme helped me hone my skills and develop my capacity to manage and advocate for violence prevention work. This has given me the opportunity to develop professionally. But the most important reward I achieved from this assignment was that I became a new member of the community. I feel like I found a new family.”
Grace’s experiences and her perseverance to work on violence prevention programmes are supporting the beginning of new, healthy relationships within her community, which encompass mutual respect and reject violence.
About Partners for Prevention:
Partners for Prevention (P4P) is a United Nations (UN) joint programme working to prevent violence against women and girls in Asia and the Pacific. Based on its ground-breaking research, the UN Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific (2013), P4P promotes and supports violence prevention initiatives and policies. Combining the strengths of four UN agencies – UN Development Programme, UN Population Fund, UN Women and UN Volunteers – with governments, civil society, and support from the Australian government, P4P programmes transform social norms and practices to prevent violence before it occurs. P4P’s work supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030.
 UNFPA. News (10 May, 2017). http://www.unfpa.org/news/new-survey-shows-violence-against-women-widespread-indonesia
 Partners for Prevention. Indonesia Fact sheet (2017): http://www.partners4prevention.org/resource/indonesia-factsheet
 Fulu, E., Warner, X., Miedema, S., Jewkes, R., Roselli, T. and Lang, J. (2013). Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and UNV.