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Key takeaways from Forum 2022: Reflections of a young researcher

Written by Mackenzie Martin  The SVRI Forum was as an important gathering of researchers and practitioners passionate about the prevention and reduction of violence against women and girls from around the world. The conference was rich in terms of the variety of topics, organizations, countries, and types of interventions and research represented. The conference atmosphere was overwhelming in its positivity and level of support provided to delegates. Conference organizers went to great lengths to ensure the Forum was welcoming to all. Noticeable conference details in this regard included pronoun stickers; counselling services; an art room; and numerous participant-driven events. This positivity was essential in ensuring the success of the event, especially as the forum addressed very emotional and difficult subject matter. Reflecting on the Forum has allowed to consider my main take-aways – I will share three. First, a substantial number of sessions focused on male engagement, norms regarding masculinity, and changing men’s behaviour. Working with and engaging men is clearly one of the most critical yet most challenging obstacles to reducing violence in our communities. Second, many presentations discussed the immense rewards reaped from thinking and working intersectionally. Researchers and practitioners alike shared the value and impact of interventions that addressed a variety of complex issues simultaneously, such as both racism and violence. Third, a common narrative at the conference was the critical importance of researchers and practitioners working in partnership. In such partnerships, equitable relationships that acknowledged and worked to minimize the impact of colonialism was noted as essential to productive and impactful collaborations. The conference has also allowed me to reflect on several personal take-aways. As I have pursued approximately three years of my graduate work during the pandemic, SVRI was my first in-person academic conference. The in-person nature of the conference allowed me to interact with and network with colleagues from around the world. Conversations in the hallways, over lunch, and after sessions provided invaluable opportunities to understand key issues and debates in the field, discuss the common challenges we face, and brainstorm potential solutions. Conversations with colleagues also allowed for the sharing of key insights into how to work effectively as large teams; how to disseminate research findings with policymakers to ensure knowledge uptake; how to collaborate with funders and policymakers to maximize impact; and how to balance work and family life as an academic. The conference has also provided valuable insight into the incredible innovation taking place globally to reduce and prevent violence. The range of creative solutions being applied to the issue of gender-based violence presented at the conference was wide-ranging including forensic evidence apps, working with social media influencers, parenting interventions, community programs for young men and boys, couples classes, and school campaigns. SVRI delegates are working in all corners of the world to make a difference for women and girls. It was an immense pleasure to spend a week with incredible researchers and practitioners making an impact in our local, national, and international communities. Thank you to the support of the SVRI Bursary program, which allowed me to attend this wonderful event.
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