Caption: Solomon Islands women’s theatre group “Stages of Change” perform at the EU-British High Commission gender based violence event in Apia today.
Heads of State from around the world got to hear first-hand about the impact of family violence on communities in the Solomon Islands, this morning.
The Stages of Change women’s theatre group performed at a special breakfast event in Apia, Samoa, hosted by the British High Commissioner to Samoa Jonathan Sinclair, and Andrew Jacobs, European Union Ambassador for the Pacific.
The EU-funded Stages of Change project uses community theatre to engage women and men in discussions about violence against women and girls; its subtle use of modern physical theatre and traditional Melanesian imagery has won over audiences around the Pacific, enabling communities to engage more openly with what has traditionally been an off-limits subject.
“Britain is committed to eradicating gender-based violence globally,” said British High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair. “Gender equality is a basic human right and as important as the other issues currently under discussion at the UN SIDS conference here in Samoa. Real progress on issues such as climate change and renewable energy cannot be made unless all sectors of society have a voice.”
Ambassador Andrew Jacobs says, “This initiative is a great example of how theatre can cut
across barriers such as language, age and gender, to transform people’s attitudes. The European Union applauds the Solomon Island Government for selecting and funding the group to perform at the recent Melanesian Arts Festival in Papua New Guinea and welcomes the opportunity for the project to share its message with Heads of State here in Apia. Gender-based violence occurs in all societies in all countries of the world, and the European Union thanks the project partners for taking this opportunity to put gender back on the table as SIDS leaders gather to discuss issues which affect them all.”
Stages of Change began as an EU/British Council initiative one and a half years ago. Working with local partners, Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association, a group of women from all across the Solomon Islands began intensive training with NZ Theatre Company, The Conch. The group have gone on to perform and run reducing violence workshops to wide audiences in the Solomons.