Aim & Context
The main objective of the program was to change the attitude and perceptions related to violence against women. The program aimed at creating awareness among first line professionals (police officers, teachers) as well as students and the general public regarding gender equality and gender-based violence. Educational tools and seminars were used to improve the skills and abilities of the participants – police constables and other first line professionals in handling cases of gender-based violence.
Furthermore, the project helped increase awareness of the public and especially women regarding their rights and the available services for victim support. A campaign entitled ‘Silence is not Gold. Act Now’ was implemented and info days were organised specifically for this purpose. The campaign also aimed at combating victim-blaming and encouraging victims and people in their environment to report violence to the relevant authorities and institutions.
Another objective of the programme was to provide training activities for professionals, awareness raising for young boys and girls in high schools, and also to design and implement a widespread media campaign. Teenagers, primary and high school teachers that come in direct contact with young girls and boys at schools were targeted for these activities with the aim to enable them to readily diagnose a possible incident and provide help. Furthermore, the project helped increase the awareness and sensitisation of young people to identify gender stereotypes, sexual violence, physical and verbal abuse.
The project also provided proper and targeted information to youngsters, as regards to gender-based violence, and what constitutes violence either in their physical relationships or through the internet.
Apart from coordination and project management, the activities of the project consisted in:
The main achievement of this project was that it enabled to increase awareness and empathy towards victims of violence. The project was able to deliver on one of its core aims: changing behaviours and attitudes towards violence against women, by prevention through education, combating victim-blaming and encouraging victims and witnesses to report violence to the relevant authorities and institutions. Additionally, trainings offered to front line professionals have helped increase their capacity on gender-sensitive and culturally sensitive victim support and to be made aware of current legislation, procedures and policies.
An improvement in the level of understanding amongst adolescents was notable, even though they were already aware about all forms of violence and gender discrimination. Students felt more comfortable to discuss and accept information and therefore, felt empowered in a way to enable them to react and avoid being victimised. The results indicate that adolescents will become equipped through knowledge and awareness, to break the cycle of violence and start building healthy relationships.
In general workshops and questionnaires were delivered on time and used as a successful tool for evaluation. Even if the participants were already aware about all forms of violence and gender discrimination, a slightly increase of the level of understanding can be observed. Furthermore, students were more comfortable to discuss and accept information to avoid being victimized and gain the appropriate knowledge.
Initially participants felt slightly unsure about how to approach sensitive issues such as gender discrimination, physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours. After the completion of workshops, they provided positive comments on the program regarding the improvement of their knowledge and awareness of such behavioural issues.