Issue five - January 2015

Delivered bi-monthly, Pacific Women E-News provides readers with information and updates on Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development - an Australian Government program focused on improving gender equality and women's empowerment across the Pacific. Catch up on what you missed in the last edition of Pacific Women E-News here.

Ambassador for Women and Girls hosts Pacific Women’s Leadership Dialogue

Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Ms Natasha Stott Despoja with private sector and CSO representatives. Photo: Pacific Women

The role of the business community in addressing violence against women and supporting survivors was the focus of the Pacific Women’s Leadership Dialogue at the Sheraton in Nadi on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Themed Ending Violence Against Women is Everyone’s Business, the Dialogue was hosted by Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja, who spoke on the increasing rates of violence against women around the Pacific region, including Australia.

“The issue of violence against women is an appalling human rights violation which severely limits women’s social, economic and political participation. No one country has got it right when it comes to gender equality. Even in Australia, one in three women over the age of 15 has experienced some form of physical assault. Violence against women has a qualitative and quantitative impact on each and every member of our community. It’s everyone’s business and responsibility to eradicate it and that includes the business community,” said Ambassador Stott Despoja.

The Dialogue involved around 20 representatives from the private sector and civil society organisations and was an opportunity for stakeholders to hear from prominent Pacific leaders.

Samoa’s Lemalu Sina Retzlaff spoke about her experiences as a business woman and advocate on ending domestic violence. The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre’s Coordinator Ms Shamima Ali shared statistics on the Centre’s National Research on Women’s Health and Life Experiences in Fiji, released in 2013.  She also discussed the work she and the Centre have undertaken on domestic violence prevention around Fiji and the region. Greenta Vienna Tome spoke about her work in palm oil companies involving business women in the Solomon Islands. All three leaders, including other stakeholders, affirmed the importance of private sector involvement in addressing gender inequalities.

A background paper was prepared for the dialogue on Private Sector Response on Violence Against Women. It documents how violence against women impacts upon both the State and the private sector, and explores strategies used by the private sector to assist in the response to eliminate violence against women. A copy of the paper can be accessed here.

Pacific Women launches interactive map

Pacific Women’s new online interactive map shows where and how the program is working to reduce violence against women, ensure that women and women’s interests are represented in decision making and expand women’s opportunities to earn an income and accumulate economic assets.

Launched by Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs the Honorable Julie Bishop on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November 2014), the map is designed to be both visually engaging and informative and shows the nature and scope of Pacific Women programs in the 14 participating countries.

Hosted on Pacific Women's website, the map will also give users easy access to country plan summaries. The map is available here.  

PIPSO convenes second Pacific Women in Business Conference

Business leaders part of the Papua New Guinean delegation at the second Pacific Women in Business Conference in Nadi. Photo: Pacific Women

The second Pacific Women in Business Conference set the stage for 187 women business leaders from 13 Pacific Islands Countries to share success stories, exchange ideas and best practices, cultivate networks and discuss solutions to challenges facing women entrepreneurs.

Organized by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), the three-day Conference, held at the Sheraton Resort Nadi, follows the success of the inaugural Conference held in 2012.

With the theme Building Women Entrepreneurs – Building Nations, the Conference supported by Pacific Women  featured over 40 inspiring regional speakers and included parallel workshop sessions on marketing, financing, export opportunities, training and networking, growth strategies and product development.

In her opening address to participants, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja said: “We’re here to advance the rights of women, to bring justice and equality but today our aspirations extend even further. As the title of the Conference suggests and underlines, we’re looking to build nations, by building women entrepreneurs. To achieve economic expansion we need to unlock a vital source of growth that will fuel our economies in the coming decades. And we all know that source is women.”

PIPSO’s Chief Executive Officer Mereia Volavola shared the importance of supporting women in business.

“In the Pacific region the majority of businesses are micro, small to medium enterprises and a large portion of this exists in the informal sector which involves many women. With limited job opportunities we are seeing more women in business in the informal and formal sector. These women are contributing to the economic growth of the country. It is also exciting to see a new trend of business women setting up businesses to assist other women in villages and communities.”

The Director of Value City Ltd (Fiji), Fiji’s largest recycled clothing retail outlet, Vera Chute, said the Conference has enabled her to have discussions with business women on potentially franchising her company in other Pacific countries.

“I was able to network with business women from Tonga, American Samoa and Vanuatu about setting up a franchise in their country. They are very eager and we are currently in discussions,” said the 2014 Westpac Women in Business Awardee.

Another exhibitor, speaker and participant, the Managing Director of Pacific Seaweeds Shamron Pickering, received positive feedback on her seaweed products that were displayed at the mini trade fair.

“The Conference provided a great opportunity for networking and I have made contacts that will assist with growing my business. We also had chefs from some of the hotels in Denarau come and try our sea grapes,” she said.

After the success of the last two Conferences, PIPSO has scheduled to host the next one in 2016.


UN Women’s Pacific Fund announces new grantees

Representatives of Fiji’s new Pacific Fund grantees with UN Women and DFAT staff at the official announcement press conference in Suva. Photo: UN Women

Eleven projects designed to promote ending violence against women and girls in five Pacific countries have been announced as the latest recipients of UN Women’s Pacific Regional Ending Violence against Women Facility Fund (Pacific Fund).

The civil society organisations and government departments will receive grants from a pool of almost US$700,000 as well as capacity building and technical support over the next two to three years as a result of the latest call for proposals.

The new grantees include four projects from Fiji, one each from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and four from Tonga.

Fiji’s House of Sarah will receive a grant for a project that includes setting up a support service within the Anglican Church  for survivors of violence against women and girls and funds in order to train the Church clergy.

“Our aim is to significantly change the culture, behaviour and perceptions of church leaders so that churches are safe and more responsive to victims and survivors of violence as well as advocates for ending violence against women,” said Reverend Sereima Lomaloma, chairperson of the organisation’s management committee.

The Pacific Fund is a key component of UN Women’s Ending Violence against Women and Girls programme and was established in 2009 to support innovative projects working to prevent violence and provide services to survivors. It aims to fill two of the main gaps experienced by many organisations and governments in the Pacific, which include lack of funding and organisational capacity.

The fund is currently available in eight Pacific countries – Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu – and has active grant recipients in seven of these countries. The Fund is principally funded by the Australian Government’s Pacific Women initiative and also receives support from UN Women’s National Committees in Australia and New Zealand.

Article prepared by: UN Women. Find out more about the Pacific Fund here.

Femili PNG – Care, Support, Change

Stakeholders meeting to discuss the development of the Case Management Centre in Lae 2013. Photo: Femili PNG

Femili PNG is a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Its is supported by the Australian Government through its Pacific Women initiative since February 2014. It runs a Case Management Centre (CMC) to assist survivors of family and sexual violence to access the services they need. Pacific Women has pledged AUD$3 million in support of this work for the next three years.

Through its work, the eleven-member team supports women, men and children survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and/or child abuse. It works with clients to develop an intervention plan based on the client’s current situation, their available options and the client’s goals.

Based on the intervention plan, and considering the client’s safety, the CMC assists the client to access emergency accommodation; police protection; legal recourse; medical and psychological first aid; welfare services; child protection services; family tracing and relocation.

According to the organisation’s Senior Social Worker and Chief Executive Officer Daisy Plana, the Centre began accepting clients in July 2014 and in its first few months of operation has worked with 96 clients.

The organisation believes women are vulnerable to many forms of abuse and that some cultural practices encourage this, for example: bride-price and male-dominated ownership of assets such as land. "Men need to respect women more, and there needs to be more and better services provided throughout the country for survivors of violence," said Plana.

Excerpted from an extended version of the story which includes in-depth interviews with staff as well as two client-based case studies.  Available here.

Article prepared with assistance from Femili PNG’s Daisy Plana and the Development Policy Centre’s Ashlee Betteridge. More information on Femili PNG's work is available here.

Ane Lautusi-Moananu & Laufaleaina Lesa, Samoa. Photo: Pacific Women.
Latest Updates

Pacific Women in Business Conference

At the second Pacific Women in Business Conference, Pacific Women had the opportunity meet with many of the women business leaders contributing to economic growth across the region. Sukhia Tuimaleali’ifano Go (Fiji), Esther Tali Suti (Solomon Islands) and Amanda Donigi (PNG) share their experiences here.

Fiji - Founder and Managing Director of The Gift Hutt, Sukhia Tuimaleali’ifano Go

In describing the first Conference she attended in 2012: "I was in awe when I heard the stories business women from around the region shared with us – they were all so amazing and inspiring. I thought to myself – if they can do it, so can I!”. Read Sukhia's story in full here.

Solomon Islands - Founder of  Gizo Women in Business Development, Esther Suti

"In Gizo Town I witnessed how women were selling food at the market day and night, spending sleepless and uncomfortable nights at the market. Drunk men used to harass and abuse the women vendors. Year after year, we women and children faced these issues without anyone addressing it. This created an uncertain future for us. It was then that I decided to take matters into my own hands.”
Read Esther's story in full here.

Papua New Guinea - Editor and Publisher of Stella Magazine, Amanda Donigi

“I knew that if I was going to create my own magazine, it had to be of top quality and second-best to nothing. This meant putting a hundred percent into it. I wanted our magazine to sit on any magazine rack in the world and be of the same quality if not better”. Read Amanda's story in full here.

Photos: Pacific Women and Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation 
16 Days of Activism launch at Lautoka Market

Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja (centre) with UN Resident Coordinator Osnat Lubrani and market vendors at Lautoka Market, Fiji. Photo: UN Women.

UN Women marked International Day of Ending Violence against Women and kicked off its 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign in November with an event at the Lautoka Market that highlighted the risks faced by female market vendors and included an address from Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja.

Around 150 people listened to speeches on the issue of violence against women in Fiji from a number of special guests and performances from the VOU Dance company, before the Ambassador was taken on a tour of the market.

Makareta Rika, the president of the Lautoka Market Vendors Association, was one of the speakers and told of the changes she has seen and helped initiate during her 45 years as a market vendor. These included the presence of a police post for the market, which has resulted in a decrease in the number of cases of violence against women vendors and the construction of an accommodation block and resource centre for women who come to the market from rural areas to sell their produce.

“The support rendered to the women vendors by UN Women and the Australian Government with the construction of the women’s hostel has improved safety and security for women,” Mrs Rika said. “It was a dream come true for these women who have a shelter and warm bed to sleep in at the end of long travelling on rough roads and sitting [at the market] to make sure their produce is sold.”

Tura Lewai from the International Planned Parenthood Federation and a member of the UN Secretary General’s Network of Male Leaders, spoke of the root causes of violence against women and the responsibility men have to stand up and speak out about it.

Tura Lewai. Photo: UN Women.

“Men don’t punch the first person they meet, they wait until they get home,” he said. “That’s not about anger, that’s about power.”

Article prepared by: UN Women.

PNG commemorates White Ribbon Day

White Ribbon Day, Buka. Photo: DFAT, Port Moresby Post

Working with local Papua New Guinean organisations, the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby commemorated White Ribbon Day and PNG’s Twenty Days of Activism by holding a number of events promoting gender equality and reducing violence against women and girls. Events were held in Port Moresby, Manus and Buka.

On 25 November, Australian High Commission staff attended the annual White Ribbon Day Breakfast hosted by PNG’s Coalition for Change, in collaboration with the Business Coalition for Women.  The Business Coalition for Women (funded through Pacific Women in PNG) launched a family and sexual violence prevention policy that will be adopted by many of the forty business members of the Coalition.  The 2014 theme focused on ‘Businesses Say NO to Violence Against Women’ and was attended by 300 people from business, government and civil society. 

Keynote speakers included local advocate Dame Carol Kidu and Pacific Women’s Advisory Board Member, Reverend Sereima Lomaloma from Fiji.  Reverend Lomaloma focused on regional support and appealed to Pacific Leaders through the South Pacific Commission and the Pacific Island Forum to ‘raise much-needed awareness’ about gender equality and gender-based violence. 

In partnership with the PNG Rugby Football League and Australia's National Rugby League, a 'Women in Sports' fun day was held on 28 November at the University of PNG.  The event aimed to raise awareness of attitudinal change among men and boys to address the high prevalence of violence against women in PNG.  It also aimed to highlight the role women can play in sport.  The event was modelled on the League Bilong Laif program which promotes literacy, healthy lifestyles, respect for women and girls and social responsibility.  Over 150 girls from four primary schools participated.  In addition, Cricket PNG hosted a women's cricket exhibition match based on the theme 'Awareness starts at home'.  Teams included forty women from Pari and Tubuseirea villages in the Central Province.

Women in Sports Fun Day, Port Moresby. Photo: DFAT, Port Moresby Post

Article prepared by:  Leilani Bin-Juda of DFAT, Port Moresby Post.

These are highlights of just some of the activities undertaken by the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby. To know more on the campaign carried out during PNG’s Twenty Days of Activism, click here.

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