International Volunteers Day Message
Chairperson of CEPS Mr. Jules Houareau
05 December 2014

International Volunteer Day (IVD) is an international commemoration in support of volunteerism worldwide, dedicated by the United Nations in 1985. It gives prospects and opportunities to Non-Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations and many other volunteers’ organizations to showcase their paramount contributions in development.

In Seychelles, many volunteers’ organizations are striving hard to bring about positive changes through different activities for specific targeted groups. As we observe this day, it is important for every citizen to realize that we all have a vital role to play in the process of development and nation building. As Chairperson of CEPS and chief of volunteers in Seychelles I would like to remind all volunteers’ organisations of their fundamental roles of engaging people at grass-root level in the development process and ultimately generate space for active participation of the people/citizens that will lead to: good governance, peace and security, social cohesion and prosperity. Consequently as a nation work towards the attainment of the MDGs- Millennium Development Goals.

The core focus of IVD 2014 is not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets, but also pay special tribute to people’s participation in making a difference locally, nationally and globally as stated by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

The local context

Many volunteers’ organisations in Seychelles are doing an excellent job in different spheres namely: environment awareness, gender, economic empowerment, health, consumerism etc.. However we have many challenges, one being a decline in the level of activism and volunteerism in general. Youth involvement in volunteer activities is another challenge. As we celebrate the IDV, I appeal to all citizens especially young people to join a volunteer organisation of their interest and subsequently contribute to the development of our country.
With the establishment of the new platform (CEPS) the civil society will continue to work in partnership the government and all stakeholders to ensure that the voice of the people are heard and their views are considered in the nation building process.
As we mark this important day, on behalf the board, I wish to congratulate and thank all volunteers in the country for their valuable contributions.

I wish all members of the civil society ‘happy volunteers’ day and continued success in their noble tasks. Together as citizens let us be ‘united and engaged in building our nation through active dialogue, participation and Action’. 25 November to 10th December 2014
Every leadership of a country aspires to peace, liberty, freedom, health, wealth and prosperity for the citizens. These aspirations will be slow to materialize if each and every one is not engaged to eliminate violence. Seychelles is believed to be a peaceful nation, but are not spared the evils of gender-based violence, which by definition includes rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, sexual harassment and harmful cultural practices.

The 25th November has marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and is the first day of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, which runs through 10th December. That date is International Human Rights Day which reaffirms that women’s rights are human rights. The dignity of all people and their right to live a life free from violence, must be respected. Focusing on violence against women is not to ignore the suffering of boys and men, who are also victims of domestic and sexual violence as well as disproportionate victims of homicide and other violent crimes. However, historical inequities and cultural stereotypes do make women and girls more vulnerable to gender-based violence and at this time of the year, focus is on their particular circumstances and needs.

Gender based violence encompasses many difficult topics that are often hard to talk about, especially in public. However, that is exactly what must be done in order to decrease such violence. Laws, services and resources are available, but until mindset is changed gender based violence will never be eliminated.

However, laws and policies will not work without support from the general public. As citizens, we must work together for a safer community, where homes, schools, workplaces and social settings are safe. Violence against women has been allowed to flourish as a result of gender inequality. We are therefore all accountable for changing this offensive reality.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is an opportunity to renew commitment to addressing these pervasive abuses that are often unacknowledged, under acknowledged or worse, denied. Violence against women is a public health issue; it has severe negative effects on children who witness and/or are victims of violence; it affects national productivity; and it is an obstacle to social development and true and lasting peace. Violence threatens the physical integrity of women and girls, limits their choices and affects their daily lives.

In CEPS we will continue to find ways whereby the structures which perpetuate gender-based violence are challenged thus, enacting positive change and eliminate violence.