Building together: empowering communities in Indonesia to end gender-based violence

In Indonesia, violence against women remains a pressing concern. Reported incidents of violence against women and children have been on the rise in recent years, with alarming statistics indicating the structural nature of this issue. In the absence of a real protection system for survivors of violence, empowering communities and establishing community-based protection systems are crucial steps in ensuring the safety and well-being of girls across Indonesia.  

With this in mind, Good Shepherd Indonesia ran a one-year project in Yogyakarta, Batam, Marau, Ruteng, e Jakarta, which involved more than 2.000 participants, including children, students, teachers, parents and community leaders.  

Local community members are key players in developing a protection system. That is why Good Shepherd Teams trained school students, teachers and local members to become educators: they were equipped to understand the issues surrounding gender-based violence, and to help students recognize it. Considered as drivers of change, these community members, once trained, can help raise awareness, build knowledge and initiate action within their community. 

Central to the project’s activities, children gained knowledge and developed strategies to protect themselves from bullying and other types of violence occurring at school and at home. Through interactive sessions and activities, they discussed sexual and reproductive health, learned about their rights and were equipped with strategies to recognize and address violence in public and private spaces. Following these sessions, children are more willing to share their views and, aware of the issues surrounding gender-based violence, demand concrete action to protect and uphold their rights. One of the highlights of these activities was the International Day of the Girls celebration, where 400 children in Ruteng and Jakarta raised their voices and eagerly shared their opinions and experiences. 

Targeting primarily children and girls, some activities also involved parents. Gender-based violence and harsh child disciplinary methods are a common way of exercising power and maintaining control in the homes; it was therefore crucial to raise parents’ awareness, to challenge their beliefs and attitudes so they can help create a safer and healthier environment while guiding their children through their years of puberty. During the project, parents were divided into different learning groups to discuss the root causes of violence, adolescent development e positive parenting. They shared their experiences at home and learned how to manage conflicts and communicate transparently and openly with their children, thereby fostering healthy family relationships. 

In addition to community empowerment efforts, Good Shepherd Indonesia provided direct assistance to survivors, ensuring they received the support and care they needed. Teams also carried out advocacy work, maintaining networks with partners such as local NGOs and government agencies, and participating in government training. 

This multi-faceted project demonstrates the complex nature of gender-based violence and the need for collective action to address this critical issue. Working with its partners-in-mission, GSIF remains committed to ensuring that women and girls in Indonesia and beyond are empowered and supported per claim their right to live free from violence. 

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