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.
, 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.
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
“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 maintained that while donors like DFAT may provide resources and funds to PDF and national DPOs, external agencies cannot impose change.
[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 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,”
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.
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.
, 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
, 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
, 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
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
, 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.