Gender-Based Violence Prevention
East Sepik Council of Women (ESCOW) have been raising their voices and providing family violence support in the area for decades. The organisation is a key partner in Water for Women.
As COVID-19 took hold in Papua New Guinea (PNG), it was clear to ESCOW and WaterAid that women were more at risk of gendered violence than ever before. From opportunistic violence whilst women and children fetch extra water for cleaning and washing, to household violence.
As part of WaterAid’s COVID-19 awareness campaign, training and messaging was provided to outreach teams highlighting the rights of all people, particularly people with disabilities and women. ESCOW staff also attended with WaterAid, and delivered messages on challenges of family violence and the support available. To support this message, a poster was shared with key COVID-19 and family violence hotlines, championing harmonious communities.
The approach was so successful, that a manual was developed and delivered to government staff focusing on equality for marginalised people, and sessions delivered to the government on family violence by ESCOW, supported by WaterAid.
This approach had a big impact and ESCOW President Florence Parinjio identified, referred and assisted many new cases from the Healthy Islands and COVID -19 awareness programming.
The approach also strengthened the referral system for family violence bringing awareness to supports like legal, police and health services, and increased partner and governments understanding and support of the system. These are the steps that will support survivors in the future, and change attitudes to end violence against women.