Dear colleagues and guests,

On behalf of Oxfam's Knowledge Hub on VAWG/GBV, Oxfam South Africa, and Oxfam International's Gender Justice Management Team, I am thrilled to welcome you to The Power to Prevent, three days of learning on changing attitudes, norms and behaviours to prevent and end VAWG/GBV.  As programmers and practitioners, I know your goal is nothing less than the transformation of unequal gender and power relations and seeing an end to VAWG/GBV in our lifetime.  The Knowledge Hub exists to support you to achieve this goal and our aim with this event has been to create a dynamic knowledge sharing and learning space.    

The event preparation team has put together an exciting and remarkable agenda that puts you at the centre.  The agenda features a mix of panels, informal discussions, skill-building sessions, and problem-solving groups, to name just these.  This mix should allow us all to approach key topics from different angles and thus broaden and deepen our learning.  

I’m also very pleased to let you know that we are harnessing the power of technology to better connect to each other, record what we share, and amplify what we learn.  I urge you to go to the Power to Prevent website where you will find event information and resources.  I urge you to go there now and post your questions, insights, and information you think others would appreciate.  And there’s more:  we’ll be ready with the tools and staff so that you can be part of creating blogs, video interviews, online polls, social media communications, and more!

A quick note to let you know that we received many more requests to participate than we could accommodate, and we are committed to making the F2F (face to face) event accessible to virtual participants.  If you can’t be with us in Johannesburg, these technology options also exist in order for you to add your voice, so please reach out to us right away to find out more!

I want to express my deep appreciation for the work so many of you have done to prepare posters, presentations and discussions - thank you!  We are also extremely fortunate to be joined by some amazing guests: experts, researchers, academics and practitioners, who will share thought-provoking and cutting edge insights that will help shape the future direction of Oxfam’s programming in this area, including: Ugandan activist Tina Musuya from the Centre for Prevention of Domestic Violence; Dr. Pumla Gqola, Feminist Scholar and Professor at Wits University in South Africa; Dr. Abul Hossain, Project Director, Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence Against Women, Bangladesh; Aissa Toure, One World, Mali; Kathleen Dey, Rape Crisis Centre Cape Town Trust, South Africa; Natsnet Ghebrebrhan, Raising Voices; Lisa Vetten, a gender activist and honorary research associate at Wiser; Wanelisa Xaba, co-founder of the South African Young Feminist Activists and Dr. Diana Majury, Gender Equality Measurement Group, Carleton University.  
A big thank you to Oxfam South Africa for agreeing to host this event, and sincere appreciation to our three sponsoring Executive Directors – Sipho Mthathi of Oxfam South Africa, Denis Byrnes of Oxfam Québec, and Julie Delahanty of Oxfam Canada.  We are also very pleased that Helen Szoke, Executive Director of OAU will join us.  

We thank country directors and affiliate colleagues for supporting the participation of gender justice champions at this event, and to Oxfam affiliates whose financial contributions to the Knowledge Hub make this event possible.  Thank you as well to Oxfam International colleagues at the Secretariat; in the Gender Justice, MEL, and Program Quality Groups; and in Oxfam’s four other Knowledge Hubs for their tremendous support to the Hub and this event. We are grateful for the support of the International Development Research Centre, in Ottawa, Canada, the major funder of this event.

We will all be in good hands with Rukia Cornelius and Sheelagh Shelver, our stellar P2P facilitators – thank you, both!  Sheelagh and Rukia are also members of the simply amazing team that has put this event together for you:  Sibuko Dinake, Adrie Fischer, Jonea Agwa, Kwezilomso Mbandazayo, Christine Hughes, Anja Kessler, Julie Lafrenière, and Anne Toralles Leite.  This huge collaborative effort was led by Laura Haylock – knowing how much work and care has gone into this, I express my awe and gratitude.  Thank you Laura, thank you all! 

Many of you were here in Johannesburg in January 2014 when we kicked off Oxfam's new Knowledge Hub on VAWG/GBV.  What a long way we have come since then!  We were 40 in the room at Gender Links in 2014 and we are 80 today - with a representative from every country where Oxfam has programs on ending VAWG/GBV.  There are 315 members signed up to the VAWG/GBV Digital Platform, and we have multi-country and multi-affiliate projects underway on implementation gaps, MEL, and conflict.  We are all looking forward, I know, to the launch of Oxfam’s new WIN initiative to end VAWG/GBV, whose success will surely be enhanced by the connections we have been making through knowledge.    

This event is for you.  Participate, share your knowledge, listen intently to each other – and then keep the network growing.  

Colleague-to-colleague, country-to-country, united by the programming work you are doing to end VAWG/GBV and all your efforts to ensure Oxfam puts women’s rights at the heart of all we do.  I hope you feel as proud as I do about the work that you do.  Sincere thanks to all of you.

Enjoy the Event!

Caroline Marrs 
(on behalf of Oxfam’s Knowledge Hub on VAWG/GBV)