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Speech by Mr Arthur Erken, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam at Photo Voice Exhibition "Dad, I wish..."

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Date: 06:00 pm, Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Event: Photo Voice Exhibition "Dad, I wish..."
Venue: Guethe Institute, 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc street

Your Excellency Mr. David Devine, Canadian Ambassador;  

Ms. Nguyen Van Anh, Director of CSAGA;

International development partners, CSAGA, UN colleagues and the media;
Ladies and gentlemen;

On behalf of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), I am very pleased to welcome you to this photo voice exhibition "Dad, I wish........".

When listening to a child saying "Dad I wish...." we may expect she/he would say "Dad I wish to be an astronaut, a politician, a scientist or a big dream for her/his future or something that not easy to achieve. But no, the wish of all children participating in the exhibition today is very simple : "Dad I wish you do not beat my mom!" "Dad I wish you to love my mom!" Those wishes are very simple so that we never think it should be a wish, but yes it is.
 
The wishes from our children really tell us as a father something to think about. On the event today, I would like to call for all men to listen to the wish of your children and to really look in the mirror and ask yourselves: Do I really a good father? Do I bring happiness to my child? What I should do be a good and responsible father? what I should do to be a good example for my children? What I should change to help my children having real dream for his/her better future?   

Violence against women and girls is normally seen as 'normal' in family setting, but it is not normal, it is human right violation and damages not only women's health, but also ruins the life of the whole family members and well-being of both women and children, including yourselves.

Too often we see gender-based violence as ‘just a woman’s issue’. But let me tell you: it is a man's issue! So with men responsible for most of the violence against women and girls, men are vital to the solution. So, we need men to lead change at every level of society. We need you to change your mindsets. Don’t just take for granted conventional ideas about what it is to be a man. We want you to see women - your mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters and sisters - as your equals. We don’t want you to be lesser men. We want you to be better men!

All of us here, including myself, are also fathers, husbands, friends, partners of women and girls, and we need to show a good example of being a man who always treats and values women equally as any other human being with full respectability of women's dignity, rights and values.

I would like to thank the CSAGA for organizing this exhibition today and has joined hands with us in this campaign; this event is one among more than 42 events of the campaign to celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. The International Day and the following 16 days are commemorated every year, around the world, to mark the fundamental right of every child and every woman to live a life free of violence.

This year we want to reach out to even younger Vietnamese men and boys, and show them that real men don’t use violence.

A collection of twenty three wishes - twenty three painful stories by twenty three young men living in families affected by domestic violence in Hanoi, Ha Nam, Hoa Binh, Hung Yen and Bac Ninh. These children come from different family background both rural and urban areas in northern Viet Nam. Twenty three stories, reflected by photos send us a strong message and will take us to the various emotions of the childhood experiences with violence, lack of care and love of the fathers, and trauma Behind the 23 photos are twenty three dreams and twenty three hopes for a future, a future frees of violence.  
Let's take action to make our children's dreams come true!   

Today, and every day, “Let's take action to end violence against women and girls”.

I wish you all good health, happiness, and success! Xin Cam On.