Portuguese National Trainers deliver simultaneous Stop the Violence training events across the country
Kindly funded by the Olave Baden-Powell Society, Teresa, Filipa and Diana from Portugal train 120 Leaders on the Voices against Violence curriculum.
Since April 2015, when three National Trainers attended the Stop the Violence ACTIVATE event in Zambia, the Portuguese Girl Guides Association (AGP) have been working hard to break the silence on violence against women and girls, by focusing on the implementation of the Voices against Violence curriculum.
The association has been following the cascading training model recommended by WAGGGS, which begins with the National Trainers training Leaders in the association to deliver the Voices against Violence curriculum safely and effectively, through the replication of the sessions experienced in the initial ACTIVATE event. As a result, April 2016 saw the delivery of two National Trainings, held simultaneously across the country - one in the North and one in the South (in Lisbon). To date, a total of 120 Leaders have been empowered to take on the Voices against Violence curriculum and to talk safely to young people in their communities about violence.
“To have a safe space and to openly discuss about gender violence was very important”
The National Training event in Lisbon gave the selected Leaders the opportunity to enter a safe space and discuss an issue often ignored, despite the fact that one in three women across the EU report having experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15.
The Leaders explored what gender-based violence is by differentiating between gender and sex and creating problem and solution trees for the different forms of violence covered by the curriculum. They were given the chance to develop their facilitation skills by delivering Voices against Violence activities and also practice how they would respond to a myth or harmful belief if one was expressed by a young person taking part in the curriculum. This meant the Leaders had to explore some of their own biases and acknowledge discriminatory attitudes they inevitably held themselves first.
Teresa, one of the National Trainers who attended the ACTIVATE event in Zambia and facilitated the event in Lisbon, explained that one particular discussion in the Myths and Harmful Beliefs session centred around the right of a woman to not be discriminated against because she was pregnant. Some of the participants felt that it was fair for an employer not to give a woman a job because she might get pregnant, however this view changed after they were given the opportunity to explore the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reflect on how this is an example of gender inequality and the limiting of women's opportunities based on their sex.
"They didn't realise how it [not hiring a woman because she might get pregnant] could be an attack to their own rights, so it was nice to see them gain some consciousness on that."
During the evenings of the training event the Leaders were privileged enough to hear from UMAR, an organization in Portugal who works with victims of violence, and watch a documentary that challenged some of their assumptions about the demographic of women and girls who experience abuse.
Despite the packed schedule the National Training was a success, with almost all evaluations indicating that the Leaders felt ready to speak out against violence and educate their Girl Guides on the issue. As they go forward, they have committed to implementing the curriculum at the grassroots with their Girl Guides, implementing a local advocacy campaign to speak out against violence and creating local partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
Teresa summarised the training experience, articulating well a comment the Leaders expressed to her at the end of the event:
"I now understand the importance of delivering the curriculum to our Guides because I don't want them to be one of these girls [victim of violence] in the future, so I want them to be aware of this problem."