The idea is that female empowerment and ending violence women is not possible without male advocacy.
But are men listening and getting on board?
Executive Officer of Papua Hahine, Susan Setae believes so, given the overwhelming turnout at yesterday's event.
Presenter: Richard Ewart
Speaker: Susan Setae, Executive Officer, Papua Hahine
HAHINE: I think that our participants were 95 per cent male and only five per cent women. So that's what's the interest was for that program yesterday.
EWART: And the men that took part have they what you might say broadly come forward willingly, or have they had to be cajoled to some extent to actually sit down and listen to the issues?
HAHINE: Ok when they were invited actually they were invited by our vice president of the organisation, who's a man, who extended invitations to them, so they came willingly from all parts of the Papua region, from Western Province to the northern province. So there were men who came willingly, and there were a lot of challenges in relation to understanding gender, and there was misconception by a lot of our men thinking that gender is often referred to women, concentrating on women issues than violence at large to men. So that was a misunderstanding I should say or something that men from this part of the country were having difficulty with. So we were able to take them through the process for them to understand what gender really is and I think it came home towards the end of the day yesterday.
EWART: And from your point of view I presume you're hoping now that the message has hit home, and that these individuals will be going back to different parts of Papua New Guinea and passing that message on to other men within Papua New Guinea society, starting a national debate if you like?
HAHINE: Yes I think towards the end of the program we had an hour and a half just looking at and discussing what are the men that we want to see? And that's where there was a good discussion centred around taking ownership and beginning to see what, they were saying that oftentimes that gender was always focussed on women. Now understanding of gender is not just focussing on women, but gender is now taking another side of the issue by concentrating and focussing on men, and particularly the men were saying that we would want to, the target now is the younger men, the teenage boys and children at school, concentrate on them. So the work that came out of that is they're taking ownership, they want to go out and start campaigning, becoming champions against the violence in the communities.
EWART: And for you and others involved with the organisation, you must be incredibly encouraged by that, because it suggests that there is a mood for change in Papua New Guinea?
HAHINE: Oh yes we were really encouraged by it and especially when (inaudible) really changed when we were talking about 'where are you coming from when you're addressing, what background, are you being influenced from the outside, influences that are making you talk about gender and our message was that no, we're talking about human relationships between men and women and respecting the rights of each individual. And so that was our message to the men and eventually when we did see a division of labour between men and women that's when they began to realise yes, this the core of the issue that women have never been really, really appreciated as equal partners, not only in homes but in the communities and society. So that's when they appreciated why the focus was mostly always on women and when they realised that violence committed inside these communities against women more than on men, and the statistic was shown and they appreciated. We were very happy that when we started talking about what is men and focussing on what men's role in relation to violence.