The Fiji Women’s Forum is a coalition of women leaders co-convened by FemlinkPACIFIC, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, the National Council of Women (Fiji), and Soqosoqovakamarama iTaukei. The Forum was formed in 2012 to bring together diverse women’s groups with the aim of increasing women’s participation in leadership.
Fiji has one of the highest proportions of women in parliament (16% in 2014) in the Pacific and the Forum is determined to further increase women’s representation in national parliament, and participation in public life.
“We’ve found a way to work together for a common goal; promoting greater women’s leadership in all areas of decision-making” says Tara Chetty.
The Forum has held five national consultations, which have brought together young women leaders, established feminists, indigenous women leaders, transwomen advocates, and women of diverse ethnicities from all over the country.
“We build on a rich tradition of advocacy, demonstrated leadership, community work and development of Fijian women as reflected throughout our national history and reaffirm our combined commitment to sustainable and participatory democracy, development and peace in Fiji,” says Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, Coordinator of FemlinkPACIFIC.
The Fiji Women’s Forum has a strong interest in promoting temporary special measures and other strategies for increasing women’s access to decision-making. Their work has included a baseline survey of public perceptions of women’s leadership in Fiji. The survey found that Fijians largely recognise that there should be more women in Parliament, and that women are well qualified to lead.
“The challenge now for the Women’s Forum is to translate this increasingly positive perception of women into greater access to decision-making at all levels – from local government to traditional governance, from informal settings to the national Parliament.”
The group has also shared their work regionally, including at a recent women’s leadership conference in the Solomon Islands, to promote greater collaboration between women’s organisations across the Pacific towards gender equality.
16 Days – 16 Stories of Gender Progress in the Pacific is an initiative of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and SPC who are sharing stories of successful gender programs across the region and highlighting the regional policies that guide them. The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration has a specific priority on advancing women’s decision making at all level including the adoption of temporary special measures and advocacy for increased representation of women at all levels including local level governance, boards and committees. Related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes. The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted Fiji’s progress as Fiji Parliamentary Committees included gender performance targets. September 2014 Elections saw more women candidates and resulted in an increase in women in parliament, and the Speaker of the House a woman.
A Family Health and Support Study conducted in 2010 indicated that more than 2 in 3 (68%) women aged 15-49 who had been in a relationship reported experiencing physical or sexual violence, or both, by an intimate partner.
Since releasing the study, the Government established a Ministry of Women, formed a special domestic and sexual violence unit within the police force, and enacted the Te Rau N TeMweenga Act (Family Peace Act for Domestic Violence). This law aims at ensuring the safety of all people including children who experience or witness domestic violence.
Ms Froline Tokaa is the Coordinator for the Elimination of Sexual Gender Based Violence Project, which comprises key government ministries and stakeholders, including the church. She says that “having a taskforce helps a lot as we are able to integrate these sensitive issues into the work of other agencies”.
Ms Tokaa has been working with the Ministry of Education in developing curriculum and counselling guidelines for schools.
Apart from having a gender focal point within the Ministry, a committee was formed which included key unit experts such as a curriculum officer and representatives from the teachers college. This led to focused activities within this sector.
“One person cannot reflect the whole Ministry’s ideas. It’s strategic to invite other technical units to support a full integration of such issues.”
In Kiribati there is now a greater sense of ownership of the curriculum and teacher training programs are helping prevent violence in communities. In September 2015 there was a formal handover of the education and awareness aspect of the sexual gender based violence work from the Ministry of Women to the Ministry of Education.
Froline says she has seen an increase in teachers providing basic counselling to students “Before, when teachers had a student with a domestic violence problem they were not able to assist them, but now with the training and guidelines being developed, more teachers are assisting these students”.
16 Days – 16 Stories of Gender Progress in the Pacific is an initiative of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and SPC who are sharing stories of successful gender programs across the region and highlighting the regional policies that guide them. The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration has a specific priority on ending violence against women. Related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes. The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted Kiribati progress as endorsement of Kiribati Shared Implementation Plan and increase in the number of women reporting on domestic violence.
“Women provide most of the labour force in subsistence agriculture in this country. They spend three times more than men in their food gardens, yet their work is not counted as productive in our national gross domestic product (GDP).”
George Herming, Communications Director for the Solomon Islands Government agrees “women are actively involved in other initiatives in the informal economy such as floral arts, cooking stalls, betel nut markets, fish and handicraft markets”
“Looking back over the years, I can see improvement in the status of women in Solomon Islands. Women are more visible, their voices are heard and they are making a significant contribution to our economy” Mr Herming said.
A recent World Bank report cited in the Solomon Islands Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 2013 Report stated that the annual turnover at the Honiara Central Market is estimated at between USD$10-16 million, with women responsible for about 90% of the marketing activity as bulk buyers from farmers and as retailers.
16 Days – 16 Stories of Gender Progress in the Pacific is an initiative of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and The Pacific Community who are sharing stories of successful gender programs across the region and highlighting the regional policies that guide them. The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration prioritizes on women’s economic empowerment and call for targeted support to women entrepreneurs in the formal and informal sectors, for example financial services, information and training and review legislation that limits women’s access to finance assets, land and productive resources. Related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes. The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted .Solomon Islands progress in this area as follows:-.Central Bank of Solomon Islands opened saving clubs for women in rural/outer island areas.
‘Disasters affect men and women differently and we need to understand the diverse needs and priorities of the various groups to be able to respond effectively to the realities on the ground. For Vanuatu, the initial rapid disaster assessment did not reflect everyone’s perspective hence the result was a blanket distribution of supplies’ reflects Mr Vano.
Mr Vano recalls that food packages consisted of rice, tinned fish, noodles, salt, sugar and crackers and were meant for the entire population not taking into account the specific needs of groups like children of ages 0-5 years and pregnant women.
“In the shelters, there were no proper lightings for the toilets and bathrooms making it risky for girls and women to access those areas in the night.”In specific disaster situations, “recognizing the different needs and priorities of men and women in shelter and provision of basic services in post disaster situations will greatly help governments and aid/development agencies design programmes that respond to the needs of all, while promoting gender equality and human development for both men and women.”
16 Days – 16 Stories of Gender Progress in the Pacific is an initiative of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and The Pacific Community who are sharing stories of successful gender programs across the region and highlighting the regional policies that guide them.
The Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declarationhas a specific priority on gender responsive government program and policies calls for gender issues to be considered across all sectors such as climate change and disaster response. Related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes.
The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted Vanuatu’s progress in this area as follows: finalised Gender Equality Policy and gender mainstreaming of sector policies such as climate change. Sex disaggregated data available for Census, Household Surveys and National Disability Survey.
Explaining gender in English can be difficult, but explaining it in vernacular in #Niue has also proven challenging.
In an effort to identify new approaches for explaining what is meant by the term ‘gender”, Mrs. Diamond Tauevihi has approached the National Language Commissioner for assistance, as she says that “#Gender in English is just one word but when explaining it in Vagahau Niue it becomes a very long sentence.”
Mrs. Tauevihi has been advocating for gender equality for many years in Niue. In their National Gender Policy the Government has attempted to give gender a localised definition.
Recently the Government of Niue has allocated funding towards the implementation of the Niue National Policy on Gender Equality. “This is encouraging because it recognizes how important gender equality is for Niue”.
Mrs. Tauevihi feels that it is important that gender is defined in vernacular, given that #Pacific leaders have now adopted the #SDGs. Goal 5 is focused on achieving gender equality and greater empowerment for women.
“Ultimately, it’s not about men or women identifying with specific roles and responsibilities, it’s about a shared contribution to the community. Going to the bush could be my role and washing the dishes could be that of my husband”, says Mrs. Tauevihi.
To mark the #16DaysofActivism against Gender Based Violence the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat is sharing stories from across the Pacific of successful programs that are addressing gender related issues and highlighting the regional policies that guide them. Show your support and share with the world.
Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (http://bit.ly/1Yqu7hd) has a specific priority on gender responsive government policies and programs related commitments include the Ministerial Communiques and Pacific Women’s Triennial Outcomes (http://bit.ly/21dbxvr)
The 2015 Pacific Regional MDGS Tracking Report Progress noted Niue’s progress in this area http://bit.ly/1I7mMPx
Its continued presence is one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance and we are determined to change that.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women we say again:
Although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens, especially if they are implemented in parallel.
Further research currently underway will lead to more definitive strategies and interventions to prevent violence.
We believe that, through concerted action by everyone involved, from governments to individuals, we can tackle the unequal power relations and structures between men and women and highlight the necessary attitudinal, practice and institutional changes.
Imagine how different the world would be for girls growing up now if we could prevent early marriage, female genital mutilation, the turning of a blind eye to domestic violence, abusive text messages, the impunity of rapists, the enslavement of women in conflict areas, the killing of women human rights defenders, or the hostility of police stations or courtrooms to women’s testimony of violence experienced.
We have made progress in improving the laws that distinguish these acts and others as ones of violence and invasion of human rights. Some 125 countries have laws against sexual harassment, 119 have laws against domestic violence, but only 52 countries have laws on marital rape.
We know that leaders, whether CEOs, Prime Ministers, or teachers, can set the tone for zero tolerance to violence.
Community mobilization, group interventions for both women and men, educational programmes and empowerment of women are some of the interventions that have impact, when they are put together with other legal, behavioural and social changes.
For example, in Uganda, engaging communities in discussion of unequal power relations between men and women dropped rates of physical violence by men against their partners by half.
In Myanmar, provision of legal aid services for rural women is improving access to justice and the training of even a small group of male leaders has been identified as contributing to a change of behaviour in some 40 per cent of those in the target communities.
We are doing pre-deployment training for peacekeepers to be more gender sensitive and to better protect civilian populations in conflict areas.
And in the United States, urban police officers trained to recognize the warning signs of intimate partner violence, are making some progress in reducing the numbers of murdered women.
As we launch the Orange the World Campaign today, we already know that tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia, soccer stars in Turkey, police officers in Albania, school children in South Africa and Pakistan, and hundreds of thousands of others around the world, are all in their own way taking a stand.
We now have, for the first time, explicit targets to eliminate violence against women in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These demand accelerated action.
When more than 70 world leaders took the podium in New York at the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment on 27 September 2015, the majority named ending violence against women and girls as a priority for action.
It is indeed a priority.
I believe that if we all work together: governments, civil society organizations, the UN system, businesses, schools, and individuals mobilizing through new solidarity movements, we will eventually achieve a more equal world—a Planet 50-50—where women and girls can and will live free from violence. ....PACNEWS
The Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with FemLINK PACIFIC and the Government of Australia, is organising a five-day workshop for Pacific Island government departments in charge of promoting gender equality and government media liaison officers.
Over 35 participants from 14 Pacific Island countries and territories are meeting this week at the SPC headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia, to strategize on promoting gender equality utilizing the media in its various forms.
The workshop encompasses SPC’s and the Government of Australia’s vision to work in close cooperation to achieve improved development outcomes and sustainable improvements in the quality of life of all Pacific islanders.
In his opening remarks, the Pacific Community’s Deputy Director- General, Cameron Diver, stated that the result of many years of gender discrimination and stereotypical, exploitive images of women is quite possibly one of the key reasons for entrenched negative attitudes to women.
“One only needs to look at the deeply entrenched culture of victim-blaming in cases of violence against women and sexual assault,” Diver said.
“There is evidence that exposure to sexual violence through the media is linked to greater tolerance and even approval of violence. Television shows, music videos and video games are such examples of media portraying sexual violence which can lead to acceptance of sexual violence as part of normal relationships and natural parts of love and intimacy.”
Studies have revealed that domestic violence reaches alarming rates, affecting 25% of women in Palau to 64% in Fiji and 68% in Kiribati.
The gender gap in employment rates as well as the fact that women’s political representation in the Pacific Islands region is the lowest of any global region, are also important concerns for gender equality.
“The role of the media is to report on the evolution and current priorities of our societies. It is therefore key that women’s perspectives be rightfully and fairly included,” said the Executive Director of the community-based media organization FemLINK PACIFIC and workshop facilitator, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls.
The workshop includes a series of interactive sessions about developing effective messages by using a language accessible to a large public as well as how to get ready to interact with the media in different contexts.
“Gender equality can be both an abstract and an uneasy subject for many people in the Pacific. When you work towards equality, you challenge power relations and promote change and that alone can trigger resistance,” explained SPC’s Deputy Director of the Social Development Division, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago – Elisara.
“Communicating that when equality progresses, everyone in society benefits is key for all segments of society to rally behind the pursuit of gender equality,” she added.
The workshop concludes on Friday 20th November.
Media contacts: Brigitte Leduc, SPC – [email protected]
Sharon Bhagwan Roll, FemLINK PACIFIC, [email protected]
The Government of Nauru reports to the Committee as part of its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified by the Government in 1994.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child that came into force in November 1990, is an international treaty that recognises the human rights of children, defined as persons up to the age of 18 years. The Convention establishes in international law that States Parties must ensure that all children - without discrimination in any form - benefit from special protection measures and assistance; have access to services such as education and healthcare; can develop their personalities, abilities and talents to the fullest potential; grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding; and are informed about and participate in, achieving their rights in an accessible and active manner.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. It changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e. as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.
The CRC reporting process is intended as a tool to support measures including legislative and policy development, and implementation resulting in the protection, promotion and fulfilment of all children’s rights. UNICEF, as mandated under the CRC, will continue to support the Government to focus on the rights and needs of children, while working to support further implementation of the CRC.
The next step for the Government of Nauru is a direct dialogue with the Committee on the Rights of Child in Geneva, involving additional inputs from civil society, NGOs and other UN agencies.
- ENDS -
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicefpacific.org
For more information, please contact: Laura Gibbons, UNICEF on (679) 800 8383 or [email protected]
I have been asked to speak to you about my observations and experiences and the view from the Bench in relation to sexual offending and family violence. In particular, my experiences in raising the bar for sentencing in sexual offences to reflect a proportionate response to violence, and, in explaining the law to communities.
Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu will have reported to the Human Rights Council; Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Nauru will be in Geneva reporting to the Council; and Palau and Solomon Islands will be submitting their national report to the Council. Samoa and Papua New Guinea (PNG), the remaining Pacific countries working on their national reports, have a deadline of January 2016 to submit their reports.