If there’s a lesson to learn from Vanuatu’s relief response following Tropical Cyclone Pam, it’s the inclusion of a gender perspective in disaster management from the very start, says Esron Marck Vano of Vanuatu’s Department of Women.

‘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.



To mark the 16 days of activism towards the elimination of violence against women, SPC and PIFS got together to highlight 16 stories of progress, activism and success towards gender equality. Feel free to share!

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

 NEW YORK, 25 NOVEMBER 2015 (UN WOMEN) ----Across the world, violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious—and the most tolerated—human rights violations, both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination.

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: 

  • It is not acceptable. 
  • It is not inevitable.
  • It can be prevented. 

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

Talking about gender equality and challenging stereotypes can be quite difficult yet necessary to address different forms of discrimination women and girls face on a daily basis, and the media plays a critical role in informing people and initiating dialogue at different levels.

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]

SUVA, FIJI. 3 November 2015 – UNICEF Pacific welcomes The Government of the Republic of Nauru’s first report submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on 27 October 2015. 

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 -

About UNICEF:  

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] 


Speech by Justice Stephen Pallaras QC at the Regional Human Rights and the Law consultation, Auckland, July 2015

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.

By October 2015, 14 of the 16 Pacific Islands states that are members of the United Nations will have re-engaged with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the second cycle review.

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.

In 1998, a successful partnership was initiated between the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the University of the South Pacific (USP)’s School of Law with the founding of the Professional Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP).

PDLP is a 22-week post-graduate course designed to prepare students for entry into legal practice, run at the Laucala Campus in Fiji twice a year. SPC is a module coordinator and instructor for the Family Law and Human Rights course.

I attended a very informative consultation on the draft federal constitution of Solomon Islands the other week. The consultation presented an exciting opportunity to engage with the esteemed Solomon Islanders who have been the drivers behind years of consultations on the proposed constitution and a new federal government system.

I was particularly interested to see whether Solomon Islands would take the opportunity to reflect the rights in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in this new constitution.

PACNEWS - TARAWA, 23 OCTOBER 2015 (KIRIBATI GOVT) ---- Supported by the Office of the Beretitenti, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Kiribati Local Government Association (KILGA), 35 members of Abaiang’s Island Development Committee (IDC) worked this week to weave human rights and good governance principles into the implementation of the Whole of Island Approach. The five day workshop took place at Parliament. 

The Whole of Island Approach, implemented on Abaiang since 2013, is an innovative approach that aims to increase communities’ capacity to cope with the negative impacts of climate change by implementing a holistic approach that integrates climate change into all developmental activities on the island. 

In her opening address delivered on 19 October, 2015, Vice President and Minister of Internal Affairs,Teima Onorio, emphasised the importance of the role of the IDC in addressing the impacts of climate change. 

In her address, she said, “Your knowledge of local circumstances and lived experiences make you an invaluable resource and enablers for creating the enabling environment necessary to address and cope with the impacts of climate change on Abaiang. Understanding your roles and responsibilities under the legal and policy framework and adherence to good governance, human rights with strong leadership values are fundamental. Development for Abaiang is development for Kiribati.”

With a team of facilitators from the Office of the Beretitenti, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Women, Youth and Social Affairs, Kiribati Local Government Association, Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Human Rights Programme (RRRT), SPC/GIZ Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region (CCCPIR) Programme, including current Member of Parliament of Abaiang and former President and Vice President of Kiribati Hon. Teatao Teannaki, the workshop anticipates the creation of an enabling environment to advance the Whole of Island Approach on Abaiang. 

On the topic of leadership, Hon. Teatao Teannaki stressed the importance of good leadership. “Good Governance requires good leadership. Do not spend too much time and get caught up with trivial issues. This often causes unnecessary delays and can derail the implementation of activities as we have learned from past cases. Time is of the essence to ensure the IDC and the Abaiang Island Council are responsive to the needs of the people they serve.” 

The human rights dimension of good governance and climate change was also covered during the workshop. 

According to SPC RRRT’s Deputy Director,  Mark Atterton, “As climate change affects people differently, understanding and applying a Human Rights lens to guide the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities to address the impacts of climate change, including under the Whole of Island Approach, will ensure that the rights of the most vulnerable are protected and fulfilled. Understanding the human rights dimension of climate change is essential.” 

Kiribati is a state party to three core human rights conventions – the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.....PACNEWS

SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team receives core funding from the Australian Government and additional project support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Pacific Leadership Programme (PLP), European Union (EU) and the German Development Bank (KfW).