Issue six - March 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.

Nauru Welcomes PACTAM Gender Based Violence Counsellor/Specialist

Back L-R: Frances Deireragea (Family and Community Services), Marja Elizabeth (GBV Counsellor/Specialist), Cynthia Dekarube (Ministry of Home Affairs, Safe House section), Manfred Depaune (Child Protection, FCS), Fraulein Itaia (FCS), Mokisha Taleka (FCS), Isabella Dageago (Public Health), Lynn Detabene (Education Department, Chief Liaison Officer) and Bernadette Aliklik (Director of FCS). Photo: Gay Uera, DFAT, Nauru Post

It is an exciting time for the Government of Nauru and the Nauruan community as they embark on the journey towards addressing violence against women and children.

Under the first two-year Nauru Country Plan (2014-2016) supported by Pacific Women, the three activities will improve the health sector response and services to reduce domestic violence; increase access to justice and improved legislation and policy environment for reducing domestic violence; and increase leadership and decision-making opportunities for women. 

Marja Elizabeth, Gender Based Violence Counsellor/Specialist, has arrived to work within the Government of Nauru to support the implementation of the first two activities. Marja comes to Nauru with an extensive knowledge and experience working to support women survivors of violence, and is ready to share this to benefit Nauru. Marja has been engaged under the Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM), supported by Australian Aid. 

“I’m very much looking forward to the next two years living and working in Nauru. My position is new and came about as a result of the identification by the Nauruan government under the Nauru Country Plan 2014-2016 that responding to domestic violence requires inter-sectoral and coordinated action to ensure prevention, early intervention, adequate treatment of victims and rehabilitation of perpetrators back into the community,” she said.

“I have found that Nauru is keen to develop integrated and collaborative domestic violence and child protection systems, which will build existing capacity and strengths. There are a number of services which exist including a Safe House staffed by counsellors, a new Family and Community Services Division established in 2013 which includes a child protection function, family support and community development and a Police Domestic Violence Unit. There is cross government support for the role and a strong commitment to address issues of gender based violence in Nauru.”

According to Nauru’s Secretary of Health, Rykers Solomon: “The safety of victims of domestic violence and child abuse is extremely important to the government of Nauru and addressing violence is an integral part of our strategic planning for the future. The employment of a domestic violence counsellor is an important step in building awareness about domestic violence and available services; as well as assisting in developing the capacity of staff across government to work together to address the issues. A strong response to violence in Nauru will assist not only this generation, but generations to come."

Excerpted from an extended version of the story which includes an in-depth interview with Marja, available here

Article prepared with assistance from Marja Elizabeth, Gender Based Violence Counsellor/Specialist. The GBV Counsellor/Specialist role is funded by DFAT, through the PACTAM mechanism.

PDF Convenes 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability in Nadi

L-R: Nelly Caleb (PDF Co-Chair), the Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama (Prime Minister Fiji), Margaret Twomey (Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji) and Latoa Halatau (PDF Co-Chair) cutting PDF's 10-year anniversary cake. Photo: Solstice Middleby, DFAT, Suva Post
The challenges women face in social, political and economic representation is further amplified for women with disabilities. The voices and experiences of women with disabilities must be included in Pacific efforts for gender equality, disability inclusion and development efforts in general. This was an ongoing theme of discussion at the 4th Pacific Regional Conference on Disability in Nadi, Fiji in February.
Convened by the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), the Regional Conference brought together disabled peoples’ organisations (DPOs), practitioners, government representatives, regional organisations and development partners to share practical solutions for ‘Partnership and Action towards a Disability Inclusive Pacific’.
The call to include women with disabilities in broader national and regional development initiatives was recognised by Regional Conference attendee Suzanne Bent, First Secretary for Gender Equality for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). DFAT assists PDF in its efforts to support  Pacific DPOs towards disability inclusive societies. In an address to the Regional Conference Women’s Forum, First Secretary Bent said the involvement of women with disabilities is a priority for the Pacific Women program.
“Gender inequalities exacerbate disadvantage and discrimination faced by women living with disabilities. We acknowledge more needs to be done to ensure the issues and concerns of women with disabilities are brought to the table and presented by the women themselves, and that action is then taken to respond,” she said.
She maintained that while donors like DFAT may provide resources and funds to PDF and national DPOs, external agencies cannot impose change.
“Although [funding and resourcing] is an important role, outside agencies cannot impose change; long term and sustainable change will only be driven by indigenous agents, groups and coalitions, including those representing women with disabilities,” she added.
She acknowledged the complexity of gender inequality, and that collective efforts and multi-layered solutions are needed to achieve change. In conclusion, First Secretary Bent encouraged PDF and the national DPOs to work together with all development stakeholders to ensure the needs, issues and voices of women and men with disabilities are heard, in line with the theme of the Conference: ‘Partnership and Action towards a Disability Inclusive Pacific’.

Article prepared by: Mere Nailatikau, DFAT, Suva Post.

Fiji’s Phoenix Program, A One Stop Shop Clinic for Survivors

Coconut and ginger scented candles made by Phoenix Survivors Network. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women

For International Women’s Day, Hon. Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined members of the Phoenix Survivors Network, Medical Services Pacific (MSP) and Aspire Network volunteers, on Friday 6 March to launch Candles for Survivors, a new small business created by women, children and youth survivors of sexual violence, with their parents and siblings.  Hon. Ratu Nailatikau, President of the Republic of Fiji, is the Patron of Medical Services Pacific.

Initiated and supported by MSP, the Phoenix Survivors Network brings together survivors of sexual violence and their families for counselling, mutual support and recreational and therapeutic activities. The members chose the name ‘Phoenix Survivors’ to signal that they “they are rising from the ashes”, with new hope and inspiration to heal and move forward.

The Phoenix Program provides a full spectrum of services to each survivor of sexual violence and their family in an effort to deliver a seamless support system. This includes medical care, social and legal services which are available either at the One Stop Shop Clinic or accessed through an outreach program which visits rural communities each week. The Suva One Stop Shop Clinic provides free services to those in need and is easily accessed from 9am -5pm daily.  

An exciting new component of the Phoenix Program is the development of a micro business – starting with the making and selling of candles, creating the opportunity for women to learn new skills that are transferable and support their growing confidence, independence and movement forward. In their discussions together, the Phoenix group members recognized the challenges they faced in funding their children’s needs, particularly for school supplies, clothing and recreational activities. Working with MSP’s counsellor, they decided to start a small business – beginning with the candles which they make together during their Saturday meetings. Special workshops and training sessions have been held to teach marketing and business skills and prepare the women for this new enterprise and their role in running a small business.

According to Jiokapeci Waqairadovu, a counsellor with the Phoenix Program, a service such as this is essential.

“There is such great stigma in our Fijian culture in talking about sexual violence, particularly when it concerns children and youth, and so we must respond to those survivors and their families with tenderness, respect and confidentiality,” she said.

The One Stop Shop model was first introduced in 2012 for survivors of sexual assault but due to the high number of cases involving children, the Phoenix Program was developed to offer specialized services for child and youth survivors and their families. With support from Pacific Women since June 2014, additional counselling services, a peer support group for women and children and a micro business component for families are being offered.

Article prepared with assistance from Medical Services Pacific. Find out more about MSP’s work via their website and Facebook page.


Domestic Violence Services Reach Rural Samoa

Samoa Victim Support Group staff outside their Apia headquarters. Photo: Ellie van Baaren, UN Women

In 2005 Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) was set up to help victims of violence who did not have support from family members. Ten years later the organisation offers a variety of services to survivors of violence against women and their families, including a 24-hour hotline, a community alert system in rural areas, short-term shelter services, and legal assistance. In 2014, SVSG reached almost 43,000 people.

In the capital city of Apia, where SVSG started, women have access to immediate short-term care and safety through shelter services, and another shelter provides room and board for children whose parents or caregivers have been subjected to violence. A large majority of the protections orders processed by Samoa’s newly established Family Violence Court have been lodged by SVSG.

Founder Lina Chang says rape and sex are taboo subjects in Samoan communities and part of their success has been breaking through that silence, which was the inspiration behind the country’s first, and very public, campaign against rape in 2010. The campaign was also the beginning of the “Strong Communities, Strong Families” program that saw them go out into the villages for the first time.

“It wasn’t easy,” Lina says. “We had to learn as much as we could before we went out there; we had to know the village system well, and how the law could cover us. Then we had to speak to the elders because if you don’t have their support you can’t do anything.”

These early activities led to the establishment of a community alert system that now involves more than 400 village representatives in 166 villages across the country. Mobile phones and networks play a key role in giving people in these villages access to SVSG’s services, and many village representatives use their own phones and buy their own credit.

Every village in Samoa has at least one representative – some have two or three – and its own response team. This allows women in need of immediate protection to be removed from crisis situations, with those in need of an emergency safe haven housed in the homes of community leaders, faith-based leaders and volunteers.

What links these services is the 24-hour helpline that launched in 2013. Staffed by a roster of 25 trained counsellors, the hotline was originally conceived to give survivors access to services and information. In reality, the helpline attracts calls from across the community, from parents wanting help with their children, to children who feel they cannot talk to their parents, informers concerned about violence or child abuse, and even perpetrators asking for help.

SVSG is a grant recipient of UN Women’s Pacific Regional Ending Violence against Women Facility Fund, which is principally funded by Pacific Women. Through this program the organisation also receives capacity building and technical support.

Article prepared by: UN Women.

FemLINKPACIFIC Celebrates Technical Expansion of FemTALK 89FM

FemLINKPACIFIC's young women staff and volunteers. L-R: Sulueti Waqa, Alisia Evans, Mere Moto, Miki Wali and Frances Tawake. Photos: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women

FemLINKPACIFIC: Media Initiatives for Women is a Fiji-based feminist community media organisation,  founded in 2000 by a group of women and men who came together through the Blue Ribbon Peace Vigil. The organisation emerged in the aftermath of the 2000 political crisis in Fiji, as a peaceful way of speaking out against what was happening in Fiji.

On May 5 2004 FemLINKPACIFIC launched Fiji and the Pacific's first women led community radio station - now known as FemTALK 89FM.

In February 2015, the organisation added another milestone to its growing list when it celebrated the technical expansion of FemTALK 89FM Suva to cover the Navua to Nausori corridor of Viti Levu by boosting the transmission power to 300 watt (it used to be 100). This enables FemTALK 89FM Suva to reach communities in some of the most densely populated areas between Navua and Nausori.

Pacific Women is a strong supporter of the critical work FemLINKPACIFIC engages in to ensure the women of Fiji, especially rural women, have a voice in national decision-making. As part of its long-term support to increase gender equality in the Pacific, Pacific Women was pleased to invest a grant of AUD 186,000 to FemLINKPACIFIC, which contributed towards this technical expansion.

Learn more about the organisation's work and the weekend marathon broadcast held to mark World Radio Day (themed ‘Youth and Radio’), as the young women staff and volunteers reflect on their journey so far.

Sulueti Waqa, Community Media Officer - Radio: “I have been working in community media for the last seven years and I really enjoy it because it allows me to be creative and to hear women’s voices and concerns. Sometimes rural women do not know the power of their voice and this is where community radio comes in to be the link between the women and the policymakers.” Read more here

Alisia Evans, Host, Producer and Broadcaster: "[Since joining FemLINKPACIFIC] I've interviewed a couple of women in government and parliament right now. At first it was daunting because these women are heads of departments in the government or the Speaker of the House for example, but at the same time, during those interviews, I was also able to relate to them as women and not just as public figures. It was good to overcome those barriers and relate to them as just people.” Read more here.

Mere Moto, Community Media Officer - Features: “Programs on community radio are very different compared to mainstream. On mainstream we know more about Kim Kardashian than Kini from down the road.” Read more here.

Miki Wali,  Host, Producer and Broadcaster: “People don’t just come to you and ask if you want to be mentored and offer advice. If you’re part of a group that is often marginalized, you have to push your way through. For me, it’s really about that – pushing myself to the forefront and getting out there. You cannot just wait. The Post-2015 Development Agenda is very important for LBT women and we need to be part of the discussions. With the expansion of FemLINKPACIFIC’s transmission range we have a lot of listeners and we have received good feedback on our programs. This means that we have to be on our toes when we produce content because we have many people listening in!” Read more here.

Frances Tawake, Network Coordinator - Rural and Regional: “I am very happy when women use media as tool to communicate their issues. Radio is an information tool. When women script and produce programs, they don’t just produce any random content, these issues are real to them. This is their life.” Read more here

Find out more about FemLINKPACIFIC's work via their website and Facebook page. Programs and interviews can be accessed here: audio and video

Safaira Tagivuni, Fiji. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women.
Latest Updates

WUTMI welcomes new Domestic Violence Counselling Service Project Coordinator

Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) marked another milestone on its Domestic Violence Counselling Service Project by welcoming on board its new Domestic Violence Counselling Service Project Coordinator, Lilly Samson.

Established in 1987, WUTMI has been the leading voice in breaking the silence on violence against women in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

In 2012 the Australian Government developed its first Pacific Women Country Plan for RMI, which features a partnership with WUTMI to respond to domestic violence. Under this partnership, Pacific Women has provided financial assistance to WUTMI to support the development of a national domestic violence support service.

 “It was just around the same time a study on violence against women was commencing and we’re happy that this project is able to address some of the recommendations from that study. It’s been WUTMI’s long-term goal to set up a centre for women and families experiencing domestic violence,” said WUTMI’s Executive Director Kathryn Relang.

For Lilly, joining the Domestic Violence Counselling Service Project fulfils a long dream of helping women who experience domestic violence.

“I feel very happy to join the project. Women have been quiet about this for so long. They couldn’t speak about it.  I just want to make sure there is a place where they can tell their story and get support to feel safe,” she added.

Lilly will work alongside Alison Birchall, who is WUTMI’s Domestic Violence Technical Advisor with the Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM), also funded by Pacific Women.

WUTMI is committed to the service reflecting the needs of women and their children affected by domestic violence. Throughout the next few months, WUTMI will consult with community groups and interview individuals about the counselling service design, starting in Majuro. The project will also strengthen knowledge and skills of WUTMI staff in counselling, crisis and case management support. 

Anyone who would like to participate in the project consultations are welcome to contact WUTMI on 625 4296 or

Article prepared with assistance from WUTMI.

16-year-old Patsy Glad of RMI Joins the One Billion Rising Campaign

Through her video, Patsy Glad advocates for an end to violence against women in RMI. Photo: Patsy Glad.
For the past three years, supporters of women’s rights have been part of the global movement to end violence against women through the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign. Launched in 2012, OBR began as a call to action based on the shocking statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

This OBR, 16-year-old Patsy Peji Glad of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) was part of a group of young people who made short advocacy videos on why they are ‘rising’ to end violence against women in RMI. This project was led by Women United Together Marshall Islands.

"I loved being a part of this project! With this video I really just want the world to know that even the most remote islands in the Pacific care about One Billion Rising. Most people are visual learners. They like using social media and watching videos. When you want people to learn about something you’re passionate about, then use a medium they prefer. There’s a better chance that they might care about it as well," shared Patsy.

Patsy’s video can be viewed here on Facebook [approx. length: 00:04:29]. As of 1 April 2015, it has been viewed 270 times.

Excerpted from an extended interview with Patsy, available here

Kiribati 'Rises' for the Second Time

Women dance to the One Billion Rising's anthem 'Break the Chain' in Nawerewere. Photo: KFHA.

For the second time, Kiribati joined in the global campaign to end all forms of violence against women and young girls.  

With support from Pacific Women through Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Office in Tarawa, the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA), joined the world in the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign.

This year’s theme, Rise for Revolution, was translated into the local language, Teirake Waaki Ibukin Te Bitaki, and printed on banners and displayed during the drama campaigns and marches. KFHA’s campaign this year focused on the active participation of youth to instil and inspire change for the future.

The one week program kicked off on 15 February, with a radio spot encouraging the youth to come forward and join the campaign. Tai Ira Te Moan Ang (meaning: Do Not Give in to the First Wave Of Anger) drama was performed by KFHA Youth volunteers staged at four different selected sites on Betio and Tarawa Teinainano.

The opening address during one of the events was delivered by KFHA’s President Mr Teakamatang Eritai, who highlighted the significance and importance of the occasion, challenging all I-Kiribati to support the OBR campaign. In her closing address, the Hon. Minister of Education Ms Maere Tekanene (also a member of the Pacific Women Advisory Board), emphasized the importance of the occasion and reminded everyone of their roles, duties and responsibilities in ensuring a safe and happy environment for women and young girls in Kiribati.

During the official opening, the global OBR anthem Break the Chain was performed live on stage in the local language. The public turnout exceeded expectations, with around 1860 taking part in activities. Of this, 60 percent were young people.

Article prepared by: Kiribati Family Health Association

These are highlights of just some of the activities undertaken by KFHA. To know more on the campaign, click here
International Women’s Day in Fiji

Market vendors from Suva and Nausori and UN Women staff with Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Karinda Daaloisio at the IWD event in Suva. Photo: Olivia Owen, UN Women.

The streets of Nadi, Fiji, rang with the voices of Nadi and Namaka market vendors on 9 March as they marched through the centre of town as part of an event celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD).

It was one of two events, each of which also doubled as a certificate presentation ceremony recognising the market vendors’ active participation in workshops as part of UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project. The other was held at Suva Market on 5 March.

IWD  grew out of the women’s labour movement in the early 20th century and was first celebrated in 1911. It’s now a holiday in 27 countries and the market events were just two of many held across the Pacific recognising the many and varied contributions women make every day to their families, communities and countries, as well as highlighting how much work still needs to be done to make gender equality a reality.

Around 100 market vendors, guests and stakeholders were involved in the two events, many of them dressed head to toe in purple, and in Nadi the market vendors took part in a fashion show, tug of war and talent competition.

The market vendors from Nadi and Namaka – the vast majority of whom are women – were receiving certificates recognising the completion of the “Getting Started” workshop, which focuses on supporting them to work together to bring about change in their marketplaces.

Their markets are two of 10 in Fiji participating in UN Women’s M4C project, which aims to help make markets across Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory. The project launched last year and is principally funded by Pacific Women.

The market vendors – who were from Suva and Nausori markets – are all executive committee members of their local market vendors associations and had taken part in the first “Leadership and Communication: Module 1” workshop earlier in the week. The training aims to help ensure market vendors have effective, inclusive, democratic and transparent leadership that can engage with market management on their behalf.

Australian Deputy High Commissioner Karinda D’Aloisio, spoke at the Suva event, while the Bilateral Counsellor for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Joanne Choe, spoke in Nadi.

“We know that so much more is possible if we all acknowledge and learn from each other,” Deputy High Commissioner D’Aloisio said. “A better marketplace for women as leaders, vendors and customers can translate into a better marketplace for all.”

Article prepared by: UN Women. For more information visit their website and Facebook page.

In Brief
Australian High Commissions around the region also undertook activities to mark IWD. Click on the links provided to learn more: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga

Gender Equality Strategy for the Vanuatu TVET Centres

Photo: TVET

Through additional funding from Pacific Women, the TVET Centres in Vanuatu, established by the Australian Government's Vanuatu Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Sector Strengthening Program, have been able to increase their reach to women in rural areas to ensure access to targeted skill development services.

The 2014 Annual Report of TVET Centre activity confirmed that:

- 48 percent of all TVET Centre participants are women;
88 percent of self-employed women report increased business income through TVET Centre support; and
- 91 percent of subsistence-level women/students report improved livelihoods through TVET Centre support.

Through its new video ‘Skilling Women - Empowering Communities', the Program brings to the forefront some of the women behind these statistics.

The Program also recently launched a Gender Equality Strategy for its TVET Centres and among other things, provides practical guidance on how to promote gender equality to (1) address barriers to skill development participation; (2) ensure a family friendly work environment in TVET Centres; (3) strengthen partnerships for advocacy and research in gender quality and improved access to finance; (3) establish a monitoring system that enables tracking and reporting of gender quality results; and (4) take steps to reduce vulnerability to violence and support survivors of violence.

The Office of Development Effectiveness in its 2014 report has highlighted the TVET Centre model as a good practice example for women's economic empowerment.

Article prepared with assistance from Anna Gibert, TVET Sector Strengthening Program.



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