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Asia Pacific Regional Conference

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Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Primary Prevention of

Violence against Women and Children (VAWC):  Focus on Urban Youth


Apsara Angkor Hotel, Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia


25-26 November 2009

 "Adolescence is the pivotal period between childhood and adulthood.  It is the time when youth need to acquire the attitudes, competencies, values, and social skills that will carry them forward to successful adul

thood.  It is also the time when they need to avoid choices and behaviors that will limit their future potential.  Parents, families, communities, media and policy makers

play a

crucial role in helping young people navigate this phase."[1]  The future well being of the region depends on raising a generation of skilled, competent, and responsible adults.

Conference Objectives:

  •  To identify promising strategies and good practices directed to urban youth to prevent VAWC.
  • To make recommendations for program strategies to be carried out in schools, in communities and within the legal system.
  • To identify emerging forms of VAWC and promising strategies to address them.
  • To recommend indicators for measuring the effectiveness of strategies and programs directed to urban youth to prevent VAWC.

Primary prevention of VAWC stops violence before it happens. Primary prevention focuses on changing attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and conditions that result in VAWC and often includes Behavior Change Communications (BCC.) 

While many countries in the Asia Pacific region have passed laws addressing VAWC over the past ten years, cases of sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence are not decreasing as expected.  Moreover, in some countries, victims and perpetrators are becoming younger.

Legal measures provide mandates to competent officials to intervene when violence is taking place and after it has taken place.  However, legal measures cannot address underlying factors, such as social norms, behaviors and practices that perpetuate violence.

Acknowledging the boundaries of legal measures, the Cambodian Ministry of Women's Affairs would like to explore further approaches in the area of violence prevention and workable programs to address underlying risk factors and complement legislative efforts.

With youth making up more than half the population of Asia and the Pacific, a focus on young people provides the opportunity to have a significant impact on VAWC by intervening when attitudes towards gender equality, relationships and violence are being developed. 

Youth, in particular urban youth, are exposed to factors associated with VAWC, including abuse of substances such as drugs and alcohol, access to lethal weapons, family conflict and social isolation, gang activity, and forms of media that support VAWC.  Urban youth are often more open to new gender-related attitudes and behaviors than older people or youth who live in rural areas and may serve as role models to others.  Programs investing in youth promise to yield high returns, which is especially important for low income countries and countries with limited resources.

This conference will provide the opportunity for organizations and individuals who are working in primary prevention of VAWC in the Asia Pacific region to share effective program approaches directed to urban youth, including campaigns, community mobilization, work with boys and young men, media, education and training, and other promising strategies and good practices. 

The conference is scheduled to coincide with "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence."  It will open with a Keynote Presentation by Madame Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen, First Lady of Cambodia and Honorary Chair of the Country Committee for "16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence." 

Day one of the conference will focus on sexual violence; day two will focus on domestic violence.

Plenary presentations will present the latest research and highlight case studies of good practices and promising strategies from around the region.  Working groups will be organized to discuss and make recommendations regarding good practices and promising strategies, and lessons learned about primary prevention programs focused in schools, communities and legal systems.  Working groups also will consider emerging forms of violence and recommend indicators to measure program impact. 

Participants also will have the opportunity to exhibit program materials and network informally with organizations and individuals working to prevent VAWC.

A conference report will be provided to all participants so that the discussions can provide guidance to professionals working in the area of prevention of VAWC.  The recommendations from the conference will be used by the Royal Government of Cambodia to inform the implementation of the National Action Plan to Combat VAW and the National Program on Social Morality and Khmer Family Values.

Participants:  100 participants from the Asia Pacific region, who are working in primary prevention of VAWC directed to urban youth, will be invited to participate.  Participants will represent government, NGOs, donors and development partners, and universities.

Organizers:  The conference is organized by the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), Royal Government of Cambodia, with support from UNIFEM and technical assistance from GTZ.  The MoWA is the lead government institution in Cambodia engaged in advocacy, outreach, mainstreaming activities, and analysis of gender issues, including VAW.  UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations.  It provides financial and technical assistance to innovative programs and strategies to foster women's empowerment and gender equality.  GTZ, based in Germany, is an international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations.  MoWA and GTZ in Cambodia are the publishers of "Raising Awareness of Roles and Responsibilities in Relationships:  A toolkit for young people on issues connected to gender-based violence.

[1] Jacquelynn Eccles and Jennifer Appleton.  (2002)  Community Programs to Promote Youth Development.  Washington, DC:  National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.  Accessed  September 2009 at


Below are the links to the conference presentations and report for downloads

1-   “Preventing Sexual Violence, what work for youths in New Zealand”, Ms. Kate Butterfield, Bodysafe Team Leader Rape Prevention Education Program, New Zealand

2- “Knowledge and Reflection on Life: A Case Study of Community-Based Education to Transform Gender Relations,” Ms Rath Kalyan and Mr Nom Sophal, Karol and Setha, Cambodia

3- “Reducing Sexual Violence in Mongolia: A Case Study of a Media-Based Campaign,”

Esunmunkh Myagmar, Executive Director, Mongolian Youth Development Foundation,


4- “Mobilizing Youth Leaders:  A Case Study of a School-Based Approach to Violence Prevention,” Youth Say No to Violence Against Women, Thailand. Dr Saipan  Sripongpankul, Office of Basic Education Commission.

5- “Redefining Male Responsibility in a Community Setting,” Satish Kumar Singh, Founder and Director, Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women, India.

6- “Increasing Equality to Reduce Domestic Violence through the Media,” Cesar Robles, Communications Officer, Paz y Desarrollo, Vietnam, Asian Regional Office

7-  Presentation by Franziska Böhm, Team Leader, GTZ Program Promotion of Women’s Rights, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs: “Raising Awareness on Roles and Responsibilities in Relationships – A Young People’s Toolkit on issues connected to gender-based violence”

8- Conference Report