Tarawa, Kiribati- Lecturers in Kiribati completed an intensive training workshop focussed on the foundational concepts of human rights and responsibilities; gender equality; social citizenship and violence against women. During the course of the workshop participants developed the Inclusive Classroom module for pre-service and in-service teaching courses, which will be used to train the nations teachers beginning in January 2019.
The workshop, which brought together 25 lecturers from the Kiribati Teachers College, was organised by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) under the Pacific Partnership Project to End Violence Against Women and Girls programme.
The Pacific Partnership brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors. The EUR19.8million programme is funded primarily by the European Union (EUR12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR6.1m or AUD$9.6m) and UN Women (EUR0.6m).
The Pacific Partnership aims to enhance Pacific youth’s formal in-school and informal education on gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls, focusing on integrating human rights and responsibilities into primary and secondary school curricula in Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu.
“Social Citizenship is about equipping school students and young people with the skills to be able to make good, considered decisions, work collaboratively and peacefully, and think critically and creatively to ensure the sustainable future of our Pacific countries”, said SPC RRRT Pacific Partnership Programme Manager, Mr Nilesh Goundar.
The values that sit behind the Social Citizenship Education programme resonate with the Kiribati Teachers College who are partnering with SPC RRRT to deliver this programme in Kiribati. “This concept is based on our Pacific values of respect for people and place, inclusivity and belonging, sharing and fairness, and the dignity and worth of every person. It should help our young people to develop self-confidence and successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges”, said Aberaam Tebitaki, Acting Principal of Kiribati Teacher’s college.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 3370733
Nadi, Fiji- Representatives from eleven Pacific countries have agreed to establish a regional working group to help address domestic violence issues. This agreement was a key result from a regional consultation made up of senior civil servants responsible for domestic violence legislation and representatives from national domestic violence taskforces and committees, who met in Fiji this week to discuss strategies for implementing domestic violence legislation.
The consultation was hosted by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in partnership with UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, and supported by the Government of Australia and the Government of Sweden.
For the last 20 years SPC RRRT has been hosting regional consultations on several topics linked to human rights and violence against women. Regional statistics show that more than 60% of women in the Pacific have been at one point in their lives been victim of violence. At the opening of the 2018 consultation Deputy Director General of SPC, Dr Audrey Aumua, said “domestic violence prevents women from engaging and participating fully in the life of their communities”, and highlighted SPC’s responsibility “to tackle this and recognize the importance of addressing family violence as a way to contributing and ensuring the overall development of a country.”
Participants took the opportunity over three days to share good practice and learn from each other, culminating in an agreement to establish a regional working group to meet on a biannual basis. The working group will comprise of an elected Chairperson from Fiji and a Deputy Chairperson from Samoa, and nominated government representatives from each Pacific Island country or state.Supported by SPC RRRT as secretariat, members of the working group will share strategies for the implementation of legislation, leading to better outcomes for survivors of domestic violence.
Honourable Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Fiji’s Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation commended the establishment of a regional group, saying, “I hope that the regional momentum created through this working group can foster an environment where we in the Pacific can take even more concrete steps to provide better services to all survivors of domestic violence.”
Certainly a key message emerging from the consultation is that partnership and working collaboratively are key to addressing domestic violence in the Pacific. UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Ending Violence Against Women Programme Advisor Abigail Erikson said, “UN Women is pleased to be supporting this convening that directly assists governments across the region to fulfil their commitments made in national legislation to address domestic violence and family violence.
“This ongoing work is a priority, and links with extensive work to improve access to quality services for survivors of gender-based violence, under the new Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls that we are coordinating in partnership with SPC RRRT and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, with support from the European Union and the Australian Government.”
The new working group will meet biannually, starting in 2019. The immediate next step is for the governments of Fiji and Samoa to confirm who will hold the positions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.
Media contacts :
Danica Waiti, SPC RRRT, [email protected] or +679 735 9860
Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia- Five Pohnpei community organisations have received the news that their applications to the Pacific People Advancing Change (PPAC) Small Grants Facility Fund have been approved for funding. Staff from the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) met with each of the organisations last week (10-14 September 2018) to deliver the news and sign their grant agreements with the Pacific Community.
The five organisations that have received grants are Care Micronesia, Enimwahn Development Association, Micronesian Productions, Youth4Change and the Pohnpei Senior Citizens Association. Representatives from each of the organisations were present at a one-day workshop in Pohnpei on Friday 14 September where they collectively celebrated the good news and undertook further planning to kick-start their respective advocacy campaigns within the next three months.
Mr Stuard Penias, President of the Enimwahn Development Association said, “Through this grant our community will be informed about human rights, domestic violence and good governance to ensure that all men and women advance gender equality in order for us to have a productive community”.
Ms Sylvia Elias, Executive Director of Youth4Change, acknowledged that the grant will enable their organisation to “mobilise and inform young people about the impact of corruption on the country’s development, so that young people can advocate for anti-corruption”.
RRRT has funding from the Government of Sweden to implement PPAC, focused on building the capacity of civil societies to advocate for human rights advances, as well as increasing awareness and changing attitudes within communities around human rights and gender equality. Under the first phase of the project, RRRT facilitated workshops in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to build the capacity of civil society organisations in human rights advocacy.
In the second phase, civil society organisations in these five countries were invited to apply for a small grant to implement human rights advocacy campaigns. Announcements about successful recipients from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu will be made over the coming months. Recipients of the grants will receive mentoring from RRRT over a twelve-month period.
RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the region’s pioneer in human rights and gender capacity building to Pacific Island countries (PICs), institutions and civil society. RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support PICTs in responding effectively to priority areas of human rights, such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change, and equitable, sustainable development.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.
Port Vila, Vanuatu- Key government agencies and stakeholders in Vanuatu have begun the first steps towards the nation’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at a meeting organized by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT).
The week long meeting, which was held in the Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila, provided national members of the CEDAW and CRC Committees an opportunity to consult with RRRT, UN Women, UNICEF, and the Melanesian Spearhead Group on pressing issues about the implementation of these treaties.
During the consultation, experiences from other Pacific Island Countries were shared, discussed and actively debated. Elizabeth Emil, Vanuatu Chief Desk Officer within the Ministry of Justice and Community Services, expressed her satisfaction in the consultation process saying, “It provided a clear understanding about the process of implementing policies, legislations and programs to achieve human rights obligations. It is not a simple process, but with the knowledge we received today I am confident Vanuatu can meet its obligations.”
Coordination and close partnerships are seen as key to advancing this work. Secretary of the Vanuatu Law Commission, Lawson Samuel said, “this consultation has demonstrated to us the importance of coordination and cooperation within and between government and NGOs. The closer we work together on these treaties the more successful we all will be.”
At a global level, UN CEDAW and CRC Committees are made up of independent experts on women and children’s rights from around the world who monitor implementation of human rights conventions. Countries who have become party to a UN treaty (a State party) are obliged to regularly update the respective Committee on progress made by the countries in meeting their obligations. The Committee then makes recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.
The UN CEDAW Committee issued concluding observations to Vanuatu in 2016 and the CRC Committee issued in 2017. As a result of this consultation, an implementation plan was drafted to address the observations made in relation to both CEDAW and CRC.
The Vanuatu Government, through the Ministry of Justice and Community Services will finalise the draft implementation plan and seek endorsement from the Council of Ministers. Following endorsement, various government agencies will carry out their respective actions and report back to the UN Committees in 2020 and 2021. RRRT will provide continuous support through its Country Focal Officer and the Senior Human Rights Advisors.
RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the region’s pioneer in human rights and gender capacity building to Pacific Island countries (PICs), institutions and civil society. RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support PICs in responding effectively to priority areas of human rights, such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change, and equitable, sustainable development.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582.
Majuro, Marshall Islands- Public prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement officers in the Marshall Islands participated in a two day training (30 July to 1 August) aimed at strengthening their role in the implementation of the country’s 2011 Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act.
The Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act came into force in 2011 and provides protection orders to assist those that are affected by family violence and ensures their safety. It defines and criminalises domestic violence, namely any physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse against family members.
The workshop, led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and supported by the Government of Australia and the Government of Sweden, was conducted to strengthen the capacity of prosecutors in undertaking their roles as set out under the legislation.
Family Health and Safety studies on violence against women conducted in various pacific countries have confirmed high rates of intimate partner violence occurring and also revealed that current legislation in the countries is not adequately responding to this violation of people’s human rights.
In the Pacific region over 60% of women in intimate partner relationships continue to face violence and in the case of the Marshal Islands, the National Study on Family Health Safety highlighted that 48% of the women that were interviewed had experienced physical violence in their lifetime.
“Since 2011 the Marshall Islands Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act has provided protection mechanisms for those that are experiencing domestic violence. RRRT’s core work has been supporting countries to develop domestic violence or family protection legislation and we are now working with the countries to focus on the implementation of these legislation,” says RRRT Senior Human Rights Adviser, Ms Neomai Maravuakula who facilitated the training.
In his opening remarks, the Marshal Islands Minister for Justice, Jack J. Adding said, “I’m very pleased to see this workshop begin, as it not only promises to sharpen the skills of our prosecutors but it will also help bring to focus all the other issues that may hinder the effective and efficient prosecution of domestic violence crimes.” The Minister further added that, “if we were to really understand domestic violence, we will know that it goes against our culture and our faith.”
During the training, participants: discussed the concepts of gender and human rights and how this is linked to domestic violence; explored the definition and different elements of domestic violence as set out in the Act; and unpacked key provisions of the Act, examining the protection mechanisms provided under the Act and the application process for protection orders.
Participants also took part in practical exercises to understand the interviewing process and the support for survivors of domestic violence as they provide information, particularly on how to obtain information with minimum harm towards the survivor as well as discussed the challenges that may be faced through this process and how this could be minimised.
This training is part of RRRT’s regional judicial strengthening programme which provides tailor-made training programmes to support judges, magistrates, lawyers and prosecutors in implementing family violence legislation. In 2017, RRRT worked with the Chief Justice to support the Marshall Islands District and Community Court Judges to get a better understanding of the DVPPA. In recognition of the need for continuous engagement with justice actors, RRRT provides on-going support after initial consultations to collect data and develop judicial tools, and offers follow up training, as needed.
Since 2008, 12 countries including the Marshall Islands and two of the states in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) have passed domestic violence legislation.
Onorina Saukelo, RRRT Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 330 5582
Tarawa, Kiribati - The Pacific Community (SPC) and the UK Government today launched the “Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project” to help improve the capacity of Pacific Commonwealth countries to deliver on their international human rights commitments. With a funding commitment from the UK totaling £1.8 million (US$2.36 million) allocated from the “18-20 Commonwealth Fund”, the project will support human rights activities in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu over the next two years.
One of the three components of the project is the creation of platforms for Members of Parliament and civil society leaders across the Pacific to champion and advance human rights. This component was also launched today at the Kiribati Members of Parliament Dialogue on Human Rights and Lawmaking, the first activity to be delivered under the project.
The dialogue was hosted by the government of Kiribati at the Kiribati House of Assembly. Mr Albert Seluka, representing SPC commended the dialogue, saying, “the opportunity for MPs to discuss the human rights commitments of Kiribati and work through some of the challenges means we are one step closer towards the progressive realisation of these rights in Kiribati”.
Implemented by the SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and national human rights institutions across the Commonwealth, the project will fulfil requests from Pacific Commonwealth countries for assistance on this important area.
“The UK Government is putting in to action the obligations it made towards meeting the needs and desires of Pacific Commonwealth countries”, said Mr Dave Jones, Deputy British High Commissioner to Fiji in his opening address.
The Republic of Kiribati Minister of Justice, Honourable Natan Teewe responded by saying that “the government of Kiribati welcomes support to build good governance and adherence to the rule of law”.
Partnership was certainly a key theme emerging out of today’s launch where prominent leaders including the President His Excellency Taneti Mama, Ministers and Members of Parliament gathered alongside representatives of the UK Government and the Pacific Community.
“This project will foster an environment where Members of Parliament, government and Civil Society leaders can work ever closely together to champion and advance human rights in the Pacific. We anticipate a richness of cross-Pacific and cross-Commonwealth learning and exchange taking place over the next two years’, said Mr Jones.
The Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project has three core components: to support emerging national human rights institutions through cross-Pacific and cross-Commonwealth learning and exchange; provide technical support to Pacific states to develop National Human Rights Action plans to meet their human rights and gender equality commitments; and create platforms for Members of Parliament and civil society leaders across the Pacific to champion and advance human rights.
RRRT has operated for over 20 years as the Pacific’s premier human rights programme. Through a team of regional advisors and Country Focal Officers based in SPC member states, RRRT provides a comprehensive suite of policy and legislative advice, technical assistance and capacity building to support Pacific states to respond effectively to priority human rights areas such as gender equality, ending violence against women and children, disability rights, climate change and equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
Danica Waiti, Team Leader – Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Knowledge Management, [email protected] or +679 735 9860
Suva, Fiji-Pacific education officials and curriculum development officers from Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), and Tuvalu met in Fiji this week (7 to 10 August) to progress plans to integrate human rights and responsibilities into primary and secondary school curricula under the banner of “social citizenship education”.
The social citizenship education programme 2018-2021 is funded by the EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), supported by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and UN Women (EUR 0.6m).
On behalf of the delegations from Kiribati, RMI and Tuvalu, Mr Neaki Letia, Director of Education for the Government of Tuvalu, said “as we navigate the various implementation challenges ahead we must stay strong in our belief that children and young people can bring about positive social change. This workshop provided an opportunity for countries to share with and learn from each other as we plan towards a future where children and young people are agents of change.”
Plans to action the integration of social citizenship education into the school curriculum arose following a regional consultation held in April 2017 where education officials from 10 Pacific countries met to map a way forward for their countries to strengthen social citizenship through their national education curriculum. This week’s follow up workshop was attended by senior education officials and representatives from three Pacific countries who will now return to their respective countries and drive the action plans they have developed.
In welcoming the participants to the workshop, Ms Ingrid Swinnen, representative of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific said, “Ministries of Education in the Pacific are critical counterparts and drivers of this process because they best understand what suits their country context and education systems to deliver social citizenship education”.
Support to the social citizenship education programme will be provided by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resources Team (RRRT), in collaboration with SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) and the Social Development Programme (SDP).
“At SPC RRRT, we believe that our children and young people are ready to have conversations on social inclusion, human rights, gender equality and ending violence, within the classroom setting. The social citizenship component of the Pacific Partnership programme will help them to do this in an informed way and SPC RRRT is excited to be part of this initiative”, said SPC RRRT Director, Miles Young.
The Pacific Partnership programme brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners, to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors of violence. The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between SPC RRRT, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).
The social citizenship education programme is Outcome One of the Pacific Partnership programme, and aims to contribute towards shaping children and youth’s notions and awareness of human rights and responsibilities, gender equality, social inclusion and ending violence against women and girls in their communities.
Danica Waiti, Team Leader – Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Knowledge Management, [email protected] or +679 735 9860
The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women recorded in the world – twice the global average with an estimated two in every three Pacific women impacted by gender-based violence. Along with high rates of violence – a violation of human rights – women and girls in the Pacific region experience constant and continual inequalities including low levels of participation in decision making, limited economic opportunities, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors.
To achieve this, the Pacific Partnership aims to transform the social norms that allow violence against women and girls to continue; to ensure survivors have access to quality response services; and to support national and regional institutions to meet their commitments to gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls. Working through partners, it will promote equal rights and opportunities for all Pacific people, through innovative approaches to education, access to essential services, and policy development.
The EUR€18.2 million partnership is primarily funded by the European Union (€12.7m) that supports all three outcome areas of the programme, with the Australian Government providing targeted funding to the second outcome (EUR€4.9m or AUD$7.6m) supported by UN Women (EUR€0.6m or USD$0.75m). The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).
The Pacific Commonwealth Equality Project is a two-year project being implemented by RRRT from 2018-2020.
The goal of this project is to increase the capacity of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) to drive inclusive and equitable social change, through good governance, respect for human rights, and fairer opportunities for politically, socially and economically marginalized communities.
The Project has three outcomes: (1) more PICTs establish active, Paris-principle compliant National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs); (2) more PICTs develop NHRI Action plans to guide, and monitor implementation of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations; (3) strengthened capabilities of marginalized groups, young members of parliament (MPs), young business and civil society leaders to monitor and advocate for human rights and social inclusion.
The project will be implemented in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.