Action 4 - Work with men and boys to prevent violence against girls and women

Girl Guide leader Stefania Affatato, 34, wants to put a stop to gender-based violence in Italy. Following a trip to Zambia, where she learnt about the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ Stop the Violence campaign, Stefania was inspired to use her new skills to take a stand against violence back home. In a bold move, she decided to include boys too.

italy stv WAGGGS

“In Italy, domestic violence is the most pervasive form of violence affecting women. Up until 1981, a law existed stating that if a woman committed adultery, it was justifiable to kill her. This law no longer exists, yet there’s still a mindset that violence is not a social problem, it’s a family problem.

“I learnt about many of these issues during my Stop the Violence training in Zambia, organised by WAGGGS, and it made me realise violence is an issue globally. We need to put a stop to it. To do this, girls must be educated about the issue and feel confident enough to have a voice and speak out.

“When I returned to Italy, I wanted to run sessions focused on the Stop the Violence campaign. The Italian Guides and Scout Association (CNGEI), is made up of boys and girls, so when I discussed the idea with my international team, we decided if we wanted to put a stop to violence, boys had to be involved too.

“Violence isn’t just an issue for girls, it involves everyone. Men must understand why it is a problem. When boys are educated about the dangers of violence, it gives them an opportunity to share their knowledge with friends and family. In Italy, we’ve found men are more likely to listen to other men when it comes to issues such as violence.

“There are four of us who developing these non-formal education sessions – and one of them is a man. It’s imperative he’s involved, as he can share his perspective and opinion about what boys are more likely to listen to.

“We work with boys and girls as young as eight, explaining what violence is and how they can tackle it. We talk about how gender can cause discrimination, how females are portrayed in the media and use of language. It’s also an opportunity for boys and girls to learn about what’s going on in Italy and address it in whatever way we can.

“The mindset of teenagers, in particular the Rovers, is changing and many are creating activities to stop the violence. It’s heartening to see the project is making them stop, think and share what they’ve learnt. When I run these sessions, it brings a lot of feelings to the surface. Even if you don’t have a story, it is an opportunity to help others speak out about what’s happened to them.

“Any project focused on stopping violence isn’t going to be easy. It’s impossible to educate people overnight if they are unable to see that a problem exists. But, we’re committed to this cause. We’re focused on educating boys and girls to think about violence in a different way. I don’t want it to be just another activity. I want it to be part of our everyday activities.

“A lot of my passion and drive is down to the Girl Guiding Movement. It’s made me stand up and speak out in the face of adversity. It’s given me understanding and the tools to grow up and be part of this society. If I hadn’t had this experience, I might not have become a teacher and I wouldn’t have been educating boys and girls about why violence has to stop.”
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