Issue nine - April 2016

Delivered quarterly, 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

Fourth Pacific Women Advisory Board Meeting held in Apia

Pacific Women Advisory Board. Back (L-R): Reverend Sereima Lomaloma (Fiji), Dr Audrey Aumua (SPC), Ms Lesieli Taviri (PNG). Front (L-R): Mrs Merilyn Tahi (Vanuatu), Ms Maere Tekanene (Kiribati), Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa (Samoa), Ms Yoshiko Yamaguchi (RMI), Ms Andie Fong Toy (PIFS), Ms Natalia Palu Latu (Tonga) and Ms Natasha Stott Despoja (Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls). Absent: Dr Lawrence Kalinoe (PNG), Ms Jane Kesno (PNG) and Ms Savina Nongebatu (Solomon Islands). Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women Support Unit.

The Advisory Board of Pacific Women held its fourth meeting in Apia on 4 April. 

The Advisory Board comprises 12 eminent women and men from across the Pacific - Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. They work in a wide range of areas – government, bureaucracy, private sector and civil society – and are strong advocates for gender equality in their own communities. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Community are also represented on the Board. Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls is an observer to the Board. 

Chairing the meeting, the Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said: “the Pacific Women Advisory Board provides advice to the Australian government on the direction of the program, ensuring it responds to the needs of Pacific island countries and takes into account Pacific Island beliefs and culture”. She added that “it is a privilege to work with such passionate and experienced people who are working to improve the lives of women, men and children across the region.” 

Following the Board meeting members attended the Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnerships Forum, also held in Apia. They also visited the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust and the Samoa Police where they learned from some of the flagship initiatives in Samoa to address violence, including towards women and girls.

Members also had an opportunity to speak with Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mata Tuatagaloa and head of the new Drug and Alcohol Court and Family Court, Judge Leilani Tuala Warren.

Minutes from the meeting will shortly be available on Pacific Women’s website.

Strengthening Pacific Participation at CSW60

L-R: Ms Anne Kautu, Senior Women's Development Officer from Kiribati, in conversation with Ms Pula Toaka, National Coordinator of the Tuvalu National Council of Women, and other colleagues at the CSW60 preparatory meeting. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women Support Unit.

A common purpose, solidarity, genuine partnerships, collaboration, strategic lobbying, addressing adaptive challenges and mobilising support were some of the key issues discussed at a meeting of Pacific governments, civil society representatives and human rights activists in Fiji from 25-29 February.

The preparatory meeting was a collaborative effort by Pacific Women, the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP), UN Women, NGO CSW and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, to support the 25 participants in their preparations to advocate for the rights of the empowerment of Pacific women and girls at the Commission on the Status of Women’s 60th (CSW60) meeting in New York, held 14 to 24 March 2016.

During the four day preparatory meeting, participants (including those who would attend CSW in New York and those who would support the process from their home countries) were familiarised with the CSW process. Particular attention was given to discussing strategic ways of engaging in the negotiation process, including the importance of working strategically to mobilise change on key issues. 

Participants found it helpful to hear from colleagues who had previously attended CSW, candidly sharing their experiences and offering tips, which ranged from the importance of negotiating language from national and regional perspectives and holding daily debriefing sessions to dealing with the cold weather.

A key aspect of the meeting was the introduction of adaptive leadership concepts to participants. In July last year, Pacific Women and PLP held a pilot adaptive leadership training with gender equality advocates from Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. Similar to the pilot training participants, regional participants at the preparatory meeting found that the adaptive leadership framework made them reflect on their own leadership style. The framework tools helped create a space for people to address difficult issues and openly discuss what genuine solidarity looks like. It also helped start the discussion on refining the group’s common purpose, as they prepared for CSW.

Some of the participants reflected on their participation at the meeting:

Ms Pauline Soaki, Solomon Islands, Director, Women's Development Division within the Ministry for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs: “Coming here and engaging in all the discussions – it’s quite a different kind of preparatory session to what I expected. I thought it would more of an information session on CSW but they really showed us the reality of what we will actually be doing when we are there. I also liked the discussions around solidarity - what does it really mean having that one voice on issues that are important to the Pacific. The discussions have helped define my purpose at CSW." This was Ms Soaki's first attendance at CSW.

Ms Anne Kautu, Kiribati, Senior Women's Development Officer heading the Women's Development Division within the Ministry of Women, Youth and Social Affairs: “I used to see leadership in a different way but going through the adaptive leadership training has made me think about finding that one voice. I am responsible for drafting the national statement and this has helped me greatly in bringing forth our issues and priorities." Ms Kautu was at CSW in 2013 and 2015.

Ms Lanieta Tuimabu, Fiji, Office Manager, Fiji Disabled People's Federation and Women’s Committee member for the Pacific Disability Forum in Fiji: “These four days have been very helpful because I had very limited knowledge on CSW and its processes. One of my main focus at the meeting was to create awareness around the violence and sexual abuse women with disabilities face. What we learnt here is not just for CSW but also when we lobby with our own governments.” This was Ms Tuimabu's first CSW participation.
Ms Cherelle Fruean, Samoa, Pacific Advisory Committee member for FRIDA: The Young Feminist Fund: “This pre-CSW prep meeting was an amazing experience for me! I wish I had attended one before my first CSW. CSW is a very intense meeting and can be very overwhelming. The prep meeting was a great way of introducing everyone to these concepts beforehand and also a great way of strengthening our relationships within the Pacific delegation at CSW." Ms Fruean attended the 2014 and 2015 CSW.

PNG holds Women’s Forum

Participants visiting the different booths at the PNG Women's Forum. Photo: DFAT, PNG Post.

Pacific Women was pleased to support and participate in the Papua New Guinea Women's Forum, held in Port Moresby in March this year.

The Forum, themed Women Empowering Women: Her Success is Your Success, enabled participants from business, academia, civil society, donor and diplomatic communities to engage, discuss, collaborate, support and take action to turn development aspirations into reality.

Hon Delilah Gore, PNG’s Minister for Community Development Minister emphasised the importance of gender equality, at the opening: “As a country with strong cultural heritage, gender norms are continually perpetrated in contemporary Papua New Guinea. However, the country has made significant changes, and we are committed to achieving a number of progressive international declarations and domesticated targets to improving gender equality."

Ms Bronte Moules, Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to PNG, told forum participants that economic development was a key factor for gender equality and women’s empowerment: “Supporting women to move into mainstream economic activity is the right thing to do not only from the point of view of equality and human rights, but it also makes good economic sense - this is a powerful combination. The growing number of successful business women in Papua New Guinea, and the establishment of business groups such as the Business Coalition for Women and the Business and Professional Women’s Club in Port Moresby, is impressive. This is a testament to the support and opportunities that are available for women to prosper in business and work towards economic independence."

The Forum was co-hosted by the Embassy of the United States of America in Port Moresby, the PNG Department of Religion, Youth and Community Development and PNG’s Tribal Foundation.

 Article prepared by DFAT, PNG Post.

After a Devastating Cyclone, Fiji’s Women Struggle to Rebuild Livelihoods 

Ms Sofia Talei was back at Suva Market just days after Tropical Cyclone Winston because her family needs her income more than ever, but all she had to sell were coconuts. Photo: Kasanita Isimeli, UN Women. 
Just six months ago, 29-year-old Ms Sofia Talei was proudly showing visitors from UN Women her vegetable farm, sharing her plans for building her family’s future and her desire to play her part in keeping fresh food affordable for her fellow Fijians. Today those plans are in tatters.

All of Ms Talei’s crops were destroyed when Tropical Cyclone Winston, one of the biggest cyclones ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, ripped through Fiji on 20 February. Packing wind gusts of more than 300 kilometres per hour, it flattened villages, destroyed crops and damaged essential infrastructure. Among the casualties was Ms. Talei’s farm in Tailevu, an eastern coastal province near Suva.

"We placed so much expectation on our farm to help us pay for our expenses, including my children's education and medicine,” she said. “We need to salvage what we can to help us cover our expenses."

Ms Talei was back at Suva Market just two days after the cyclone, but the root crops and other vegetables that usually fill her stall were replaced with coconuts – all she has left to sell. What comes next is uncertain; it will take at least four months to get even the fastest-growing crops to the point where she can earn money from them.

Also hurt by the cyclone was Ms Raj Wati, whose family income came from her pawpaw plantation in Sigatoka, a town on Viti Levu island at the mouth of the Sigatoka River. She had been investing most of her profits back into the plantation and using the rest to buy school supplies for her grandchildren and for the family’s living expenses.

Ms Talei and Ms Wati are two of the thousands of women in Fiji who sell produce or handicrafts at local markets to pay for their children’s education and day-to-day living expenses. The destruction of crops and market buildings not only took away their source of income, but also threatens the food security of entire communities and their health, nutrition and education.

Through its Markets for Change project, UN Women is working with local partners to provide women market vendors with tools, supplies, seeds and training so they can replant their gardens and get back on their feet as quickly as possible. UN Women also will work with local governments to rebuild market buildings that were damaged or destroyed.

Markets for Change is principally funded by Pacific Women and aims to strengthen women’s economic security and rights in market places throughout Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands.

Article excerpted from an extended version of the story written by Ellie van Baaren, UN Women. For more stories from UN Women documenting the impact of the cyclone on women, visit their website and Facebook.

Nauruan Women in Leadership Practice Parliament Workshop

On 9 February, the Women’s Practice Parliament training workshop was officially opened by the Hon Charmaine Scotty, Minister for Home Affairs and His Excellency John Donnelly, the Australian High Commissioner, who gave keynote addresses, welcoming the Nauruan women participants.

A number of skills building and information seminars were conducted before the actual practice parliament. Representatives from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat gave an overview of the Parliamentary process and also conducted a question and answer session.

Senior members of the Nauru Government also provided context to Nauru’s sustainable development goals, human rights awareness, highlighted key policy issues and provided a legal understanding of Nauru’s gender equality laws.

Mrs Ruby Thoma, the first ever Nauruan woman in Parliament (1986-1992), also shared her experiences as a parliamentarian and gave an encouraging talk, inspiring all those who attended. Nauru Parliament Advisor, Mr Sanjeev Sharma, and the Clerk of Parliament, Ms Anne Marie Cain, highlighted the key functions and procedures of the Nauru Parliament including the role of the Government and the Opposition.

The participants were divided in to two groups - Government and Opposition - and a mock Bill called the Youth Reproductive Rights Bill 2016, was introduced to them. The exercise was covered by Nauru media and broadcast live on Nauru TV and radio.

The participants hailed the workshop as a success, with a number of Nauruan women indicating their interest in becoming nominees in the upcoming national elections planned for June 2016.

Prior to the workshop, the 30 participants from Nauru’s 14 districts had attended a Women’s Transformational Leadership Workshop supported by UN Women and the Australian High Commission, with support from Pacific Women. The workshop aimed to support the participants in understanding transformational leadership and the existence of inequality when it comes to power sharing and decision making; increasing women’s political participation; understanding electoral systems, campaign and election strategies; acquiring knowledge and skills for effective political and social communication; and strengthening alliance, network and coalitions of women at the provincial and national levels as a base support for women candidates through interaction with women organisations.

Article prepared by: Veronica Halstead, DFAT, Nauru Post. This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Nauru Post’s newsletter, Australiana.

WUTMI Opens Weto in Mour (A Place of Life)

L-R: K&K Island Pride Supermarket staff receive advocacy posters from Ms Lilly Samson, Weto in Mour’s Program Coordinator. Photo: Anatha Elias.

The beginning of 2016 has seen the Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) realize a long-held dream of establishing a support service for women and girls survivors of gender-based violence. WUTMI is the Republic of Marshall Islands' (RMI) leading voice against violence against women and girls and a key partner of Pacific Women.  
According to Ms Marie Maddison, WUTMI co-founder and adviser, this dream had been 10 years in the making: “Providing protection and spurring empowerment from within, outside, and around is the purpose of a complementary and supplementary violence against women project such as this one. We've been aspiring to a program like this for the women of the Marshall Islands for at least 10 years.”

Ms Kathryn Relang, WUTMI’s Executive Director, says the service can be accessed by all women and girls: “For many years we’ve pondered the idea of establishing such a service. When we talk to women, survivors or not, a place to go to for assistance is what they ask for. We are very happy to announce that this door has opened for our mothers and daughters and that we can better attend to their needs, give them hope, and most importantly get them to safety.”

Weto in Mour (A Place of Life): Violence Against Women and Girls Support Service opened on 11 January and is the first service of its kind in RMI. The services are free, confidential, women-centered and prioritises the safety of women and girls who are experiencing violence. 

Survivors of intimate partner violence are expected to make up the majority of the client group, due to the high rates of intimate partner violence perpetrated by men. The service encourages women and girls who have experienced other forms of violence such as sexual abuse, trafficking or sexual exploitation, or forced marriage, to also contact Weto in Mour for support.

Another major feature of the service will be assisting women to access the police, which is something women raised as a challenge during the consultation phase of the program. WUTMI and the Marshall Islands Police Department have agreed on a joint working protocol, formalised in a memorandum of understanding between Weto in Mour and the police Domestic Violence Prevention Unit. This will strengthen collaboration between the two organisations and improve survivors’ experience of reporting incidents of violence to the police.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Weto in Mour to support victims of violence.  We think this collaboration will improve women’s experience of reporting violence to the police, and ultimately result in women and girls being safe,” stated Captain Mercyba Balos, Officer in Charge of the National Police Domestic Violence Prevention Unit.

The first phase of the service reflects many of the recommendations made by women and professional stakeholders consulted by WUTMI on the design of the service during 2015.

“Last year, we met with 188 women from six atolls to find out what they wanted from a service that supports women who have experienced these types of violence. We heard many painful stories of the violence women are experiencing and we feel confident that women want this service because of the things they had to tell us. From them, we learned that the number one thing that would help women experiencing violence was assistance to pay for transport, food and other important items to help women to leave the situation if they want to. So now we are providing that service to women,” explains Ms Lilly Samson, Weto in Mour’s Program Coordinator. “Now we know that there is a place that women and girls can go to tell their stories, and also have the feeling within themselves that they are safe.”

An official launch of the service will take place in the next few months, and work continues on the design of the full service to be expanded throughout the outer islands.

Weto in Mour can be found at the WUTMI office and is open from 8:30am – 12.00pm and 1.00pm – 4.00pm weekdays.  Anyone who has any questions about the service or violence against women and girls is encouraged to contact the service Ms Lilly Samson, Program Coordinator - Telephone: 625-4296 Email:

Fiji Launches Women’s Fund

The Hon Rosy Akbar, Fiji's Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, commended Pacific Women's continued commitment and support towards advancing gender equality in Fiji. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women Support Unit.

In November last year, the Hon Steven Ciobo, Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment (Minister for International Development and the Pacific, at the time) joined the Hon Rosy Akbar, Fiji's Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, to announce the establishment of the Fiji Women’s Fund. 

Over the next seven years, the AUD10.5 million Fund aims to support local women’s groups and women-focused civil society organisations (CSOs) in their work towards gender equality. The Fund is an initiative under the Pacific Women Fiji Country Plan, through which the Australian Government is committing up to AUD26 million over 10 years towards increasing gender equality in Fiji.

Minister Ciobo said: “Through the Fiji Women’s Fund we aim to provide flexible support to a wide range of women’s groups in Fiji – both big and small, urban and rural, national and grassroots. This reflects our belief that empowering such groups means supporting local champions of change to make a difference in their own communities.”

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar thanked the Australian Government for its continued commitment and support towards women's empowerment initiatives in Fiji.
“I would like to commend the Australian Government for committing up to $320 million over 10 years in the 14 Pacific Islands Forum member countries since 2012. The goal for the Fiji Women’s Fund will improve the playing field for gender equality and women’s rights. The gains from the fund will combine with the efforts by the Fijian Government in these two critical areas. Again, my Ministry expresses our gratitude to the ongoing support of DFAT to strengthen the implementation of the National Gender Policy. These partnerships have provided us with an enhanced capacity to work across government and into communities,”
Minister Akbar said.

The Fiji Women’s Fund will provide grant funding, capacity development assistance and support for networking and cross-learning for women’s groups and women focused CSOs across Fiji, particularly targeting those in rural, remote and maritime areas that do not often have opportunities to access support. The Fiji Women’s Fund will support groups that aim to increase women’s economic empowerment, end violence against women and increase women’s role in decision-making and leadership.

At the time of the launch, DFAT had commissioned a three member design team who met with various women’s groups, women’s CSOs and relevant stakeholders to design the Fiji Women’s Fund. DFAT is currently finalising the design and aims to establish the Fund by June 2016. 

Article prepared with assistance from DFAT, Fiji Post. 

Red Cardim Vaelens – Advocating Against Family Violence Through Sport

Ms Natasha Stott-Despoja, Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls (first from right), at the launch of the Red Cardim Vaelens program in Solomon Islands. Photo: DFAT, Solomon Islands Post.

Ms Natasha Stott-Despoja, Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls, launched the new and innovative Red Cardim Vaelens program in Solomon Islands in November last year.

Red Cardim Vaelens (meaning Red Carding Violence) is the first program of its kind in the country which seeks to mobilise young men to advocate against family violence through sport. This will be done through a number of mechanisms, including an extensive leadership training program and strong mentoring for young sports players.
Seven clubs have already agreed to be part of this initiative – five soccer clubs and two rugby union clubs. The clubs are based in both Honiara and Malaita Province.

Ambassador Stott-Despoja emphasised the important role men and boys can play in ending violence against women in Solomon Islands: “Sport is a key part of life in Solomon Islands, and therefore provides a powerful vehicle for creating social change,” said the Ambassador at the launch. “Preventing violence is everyone’s responsibility, both men and women need to work together to address this challenge.”
Pacific Women has committed over AUD$0.5 million to Red Cardim Vaelens till 2017. The program strongly aligns with the Australian Sports Diplomacy Strategy as well as the recently released Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy.
Article prepared by DFAT, Solomon Islands Post.

Pacific Women Boosts Access to Family and Sexual Violence Support Services in Bougainville

L-R: Ms Elena Leddra, PNG Program Manager with IWDA; Sister Lorraine Garasu, Coordinator of Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation and Ms Roselyne Kenneth, Senior Program Manager for the Australian High Commission Gender Program, during the launch in Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Photo: Aaron English, DFAT, PNG Post.

Globally, more than one in every three women has experienced physical violence, been coerced into sex, or has been abused in some other way. A woman is more likely to be abused by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), studies suggest that the rate of violence against women and girls is more than double the global rates, with two in every three women abused. In Bougainville, a Partners for Prevention multi-country study by UN Agencies in 2013 found that 62 per cent of men interviewed in Bougainville reported perpetrating some form of rape against women or girls in their lifetime. 
In addition to Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention and intervention work, providing support and justice to women and girls survivors of violence, it is also important to work with men to prevent perpetration of violence. In response to this need, a new support centre, called Men’s Hub, has just been opened in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It is aimed at working with men and boys on increasing awareness on GBV and gender equality issues, on prevention activities, and rehabilitating male perpetrators of family and sexual violence. The Men’s Hub is run by the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation working in partnership with International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), with support from Pacific Women.
Funding the men’s support centre is important because violence against women is fundamentally an issue of gender inequality,” said Mr James Hall, Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor. “The support that the new centre provides will help to change attitudes and behaviours and prevent violence.”
The Men’s Hub is a component of a Pacific Women funded AUD1.6 million From Gender Based Violence to Gender Justice and Healing project implemented by the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation in partnership with IWDA. The program aims to increase access to justice and counselling services for survivors of family and sexual violence in Bougainville and promotes shared power and decision making between women and men.
Sister Lorraine Garasu, Coordinator of the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation, said the Men’s Hub focus will not only look into the issue of men’s violence against women and girls, but also will address other social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse: “Many of the cases that we see for men and boys involve drugs and alcohol. We include education on substance abuse as a part of the counselling process. The launch of the Men’s Hub and White Ribbon Day commemorations is an important reminder for us to renew our commitment to take action against violence in homes, workplaces and our communities.”
Pacific Women works in partnership with all levels of government in PNG and Bougainville, civil society, international partners, women and men to respond to violence against women. This includes enabling women’s access to justice and increasing the level of support services for survivors.
Article prepared by DFAT, PNG Post. 


In December last year, Pacific Women’s First Progress Report – 2012-2015 was launched by Hon Steven Ciobo, Australia’s (former) Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Deputy Secretary General and Pacific Women Advisory Board Member, Ms Andie Fong Toy.

Since its inception in 2012, Pacific Women has supported 12,897 women and girls to access crisis support services, 1,716 women to undertake financial literacy training and 563 women obtain formal qualifications. The inaugural report showcases some of the 90 activities that have been implemented across 14 Pacific Island countries in partnership with Pacific governments and communities as well as multilateral and regional organisations.

An interactive copy can be accessed here

Upcoming Events

Country Reflection Workshop and Country Plan Review in Vanuatu  

On 18 April, Pacific Women will be testing a methodology for conducting a Country Reflection Workshop in Port Vila as a first step in the review of the Vanuatu Country Plan. The aim of the Workshop is to understand how change happens, the contribution of the program to that change, barriers encountered and improvements to effectively bring about change for women in the country context. The workshop will be attended by a broad group of stakeholders and include Pacific Women implementing partners. Once tested, Pacific Women intends to replicate the methodology in another country before adopting it for broader use.

The Vanuatu Country Plan Review will follow on from the Country Reflection Workshop and will be held between 19-22 April.

Latest Updates

Monitoring & Evaluation Workshop in Tonga 

A three day Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) workshop took place in Tonga between 11-15 April. Around 15 Pacific Women implementing partners came together to focus on developing their approach to M&E. This workshop involved developing the Tonga Country Plan M&E Framework and provided guidance for implementing partners in developing their M&E Plans. The workshop  included representatives from the Ministry for Internal Affairs Women’s Division, women’s organisations such as the Tonga Women and Children’s Crisis Centre and the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children and other Pacific Women funded projects.

Samoa Hosts 4th Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Forum 

L-R: Senators Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau Senior (Palau) and Daisy Alik-Momotaro (Republic of the Marshall Islands) joined fellow Pacific women parliamentarians in Samoa to discuss women’s access to formal and informal economies. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women Support Unit.

A new chapter in Samoan democracy opened in March with Temporary Special Measures that guarantee a 10 per cent representation of women in the Legislative Assembly. At this auspicious time, the Samoan Legislative Assembly also welcomed around 65 women parliamentarians from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to Samoa to attend the fourth Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Forum funded by Pacific Women. The Forum was held between 4-7 April and brought together women and men parliamentarians to discuss legislative advances and opportunities in women’s economic empowerment in Pacific nations.

The Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, was one of the keynote speakers at the event.

An Outcome Statement will shortly be available on Pacific Women’s website.

Documentary Captures Pacific Women’s Stories of Sustainable Development

A new documentary film featuring Pacific women has been produced by femLINKPACIFIC in partnership with the Pacific Community (SPC). The documentary gives a voice to Pacific women from Cook Islands, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu who share their views on sustainable development and what they consider important for improved quality of life and sustainable wellbeing.

Sisters of the Pacific Ocean – Rising through the Waves is narrated by Lucille Chute, a young woman media activist based in femLINKPACIFIC’s rural community media centre in Labasa, Fiji. 

“The objective of the film is to provide another platform that gives a voice to Pacific women, reflecting their priorities in terms of sustainable development. It aims to inform decision-making at the regional and global levels, towards developing effective strategies and adopting concrete measures that will benefit all,” said Ms Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, the Deputy-Director of SPC’s Social Development Division.

Produced with assistance from Pacific Women, the video was launched online during CSW60 and can be previewed here [approx. length: 09:54]. A full feature will be launched later in the year. 

Tonga Acknowledges Women Leaders on IWD

Participants of the two day training. Photo: DFAT, Tonga Post.

In the lead up to International Women's Day (IWD), the Australian High Commission in Tonga hosted a reception for its Pacific Women stakeholders, in acknowledgement of their hard work in advancing gender equality. Mr Andrew Ford, the Australian High Commissioner, paid special tribute to the impressive contribution of women to the Kingdom. The High Commission also supported the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Women’s Division on IWD by funding a training program for potential women candidates in the 2016 local election. 
Article prepared by: DFAT, Tonga Post. 

Fiji EVAW Shelter Partners Acknowledged on IWD

In acknowledgement of their critical role, Ms Karinda D’aloisio, the Deputy Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, hosted organisations providing safe homes and shelters to women and girl survivors of violence, to lunch at the High Commission on IWD. Organisations included those supported by Pacific Women.

“On behalf of the Government of Australia, we commemorate your efforts in providing safe homes and shelters to many women and girls in Fiji throughout the years. You have worked with tireless commitment, with limited resources to provide love and care to many women and girls in need. Your work, although in the front line, is not in the limelight, nor is it glamorous. It is often thankless, emotionally draining and yet incredibly courageous and a vital service for survivors for violence. We thank you for your efforts to date in helping women and girls survive acts of violence committed against them,” said Ms D’aloisio.

Ms D’aloisio commended civil society and private sector organisations working collaboratively to address violence against women and girls, and encouraged this to continue, especially with new partners present at the function.

 “As part of our development work, Australia promotes partnerships between the private sector and civil society organisations such as yourselves. When we began planning this event we wanted to provide a platform for networking with key business partners and have since learnt that there are corporates in Fiji that are helping some of you through the provision of hygiene commodities and food items. I trust that over lunch we can spend time getting to know one another and progress how you can all collectively work together to enhance the services our homes and shelters are already providing.”

Guests at the function received copies of Safe Homes and Safe Communities: Australia’s commitment to ending all forms of violence against women and girls – a publication featuring case studies that highlight Australian-supported initiatives, organisations and individuals addressing violence against women in the Pacific and internationally. A copy can be accessed here.

Article prepared with assistance from DFAT, Fiji Post. 

Mock Parliament for Women Candidates in Samoa 2016

L-R: Ms Faagasealii Sapoa Sulu Feagiai makes an intervention during one of the mock parliamentary sessions. Next to her is Ms Tofa Fiso Evelini Faamoe. Photo: Francesca Mondello,  UNDP. 

Prior to general elections in March, the Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS) program – a joint program between UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Government of Samoa and the Australian Government, through Pacific Women – jointly funded a successful mock parliament on January 20 as part of efforts to increase women’s political participation. 
The activity was linked to achieving one of the main objectives of the IPPWS program, which is Building the Capacity of Women in Parliamentary Processes and Procedures in Preparation for the Elections. The mock parliament was the first of its kind to be held in Samoa for women candidates leading up to the elections.
The event was organised and implemented by the Samoa Parliament/Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly in partnership with the IPPWS and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development of Samoa and UNDP Pacific Centre. The Office of the Clerk did an excellent job of including all the normal activities, procedures and processes of parliament. Fifteen women candidates contesting in the elections took part in the debate.
The program included a debate on the 2013 Constitutional Amendment and a questions and answer session with the Speaker of Samoan Parliament, Mr La’auli Leuatea Schmidt.
The mock parliament was a great learning experience for the candidates and clarified many parliamentary issues that were unfamiliar to them prior to the debate.
UN Women’s Ms Suisala Mele Maualaivao commended the event: “the value of mock parliaments is often understated. As a female candidate who may be new to so many procedures involved with taking on such a high level role, having the opportunity to practice as it were, is the opportunity to make perfect. The smiles on everyone’s faces is proof in how much all enjoyed and learned from it.”
The candidates were trained on Standing Orders of Parliament and processes of moving a motion, addressing the Speaker and making intervention.

Leading up to this, other trainings were undertaken last year as part of this capacity building component facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Weir, parliamentary specialist and former MP from New Brunswick, Canada and Mr Dyfan Jones, parliamentary specialist, based  at UNDP Pacific Office in Suva
Mr Jones congratulated the women candidates’ part of the mock parliament: “It is the best that I have seen in the Pacific and I was present at all other mock parliaments held thus far,” he said.
Article prepared by DFAT, Samoa Post. 

Let’s Make Our Families Safe 

In November and December last year, Pacific Women, in partnership with development partners Oxfam Australia, IOD PARC and the Pacific Leadership Program, launched the Let’s Make our Families Safe initiative in Malaita and Temotu Provinces in Solomon Islands. The launch of the AUD4.92 million initiative coincided with the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence Campaign
Safe Families aims to prevent family violence and create an enabling policy, legislative and budget environment for a multi stakeholder response to family violence. To achieve its goals, Safe Families has adopted an innovative approach centred on three core activities: 1) providing support to community activities that aim to prevent family violence; 2) facilitating coalition action at the provincial level to strengthen prevention activities and enhance access to services; and 3) investing in monitoring and evaluation, to learn more about the causes and dynamics of family violence in Solomon Islands.
The launch of Safe Families in Malaita and Temotu was successful in part because of the strong support from leaders and communities. Notably, the Malaita Provincial Premier, Mr Edwin Ramohia, and the Temotu Provincial Deputy Premier, Mr Stanley Teheiau, both called upon everyone to end family violence and make their provinces a safer place at the respective launches.
The work of Safe Families has also been strengthened by a comprehensive baseline survey conducted at the end of last year. The survey looked at knowledge, attitudes and behaviour, as well as prevalence of family violence within target communities. The survey will provide a useful benchmark against which to measure the success of the initiative as well as help shape its ongoing delivery.
Article prepared by DFAT, Solomon Islands Post.

Bougainville Women’s Federation launches new hub for women’s empowerment

Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF) is the peak agency for women’s rights and development in Bougainville. To date, there are over 4,000 BWF members representing the 13 districts of Bougainville. Since establishing a Secretariat and electing their first Executive Board in 2012, BWF has grown from strength to strength, and has worked to implement programs to benefit its members and the women of Bougainville as a whole.

One of the aims of BWF has been to address the leadership gap of young women between the ages of 18 and 30. BWF has implemented a Young Women’s Leadership Project for young women in Bougainville, providing a safe space for them to build and develop their leadership skills. First piloted in 2015, Pacific Women now supports this work in partnership with the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).

The training program is the result of recommendations from research conducted by BWF, IWDA and the Australian National University in 2014, “Bougainville Young Women’s Leadership Research.”  The training covers topics such as public speaking, budgeting, networking and developing a public profile. Young women participants will have the opportunity during the program to learn from BWF’s executives and staff engaged in the various programs and activities conducted by BWF, all of which are focused on capacity building of women.
Ms Natasha Stott Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, launched this project and the extension of BWF’s hub facilities during her visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville in February of this year.

The AUD1.4 million Young Women’s Leadership Project will support young women to build leadership skills and confidence to have a greater voice in local and regional government affairs and policy development. It will also continue to build the capacity of the BWF to support and represent the interests of women across the region.

Ambassador Stott Despoja said up to 90 young women will be mentored by 30 facilitators over three years.

“They will then have the opportunity to join the Bougainville Women’s Federation and be part of a sustainable and inclusive body for women across Bougainville,” Ambassador Stott Despoja said.

The Ambassador also acknowledged that the launching of BWF’s facilities will also contribute to supporting women’s leadership.

 “We are delighted that this hub will assist the Federation to strengthen women’s leadership in the region,” Ambassador Stott Despoja said.

Article prepared by DFAT, PNG Post. 

The Journey of a Youth Volunteer

Mr Joseva Maikitu has received national and international commendations for his dedication to volunteerism. Photo: Ellie van Baaren, UN Women. 

Mr Joseva Maikitu began volunteering for the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) from the age of 16, starting with blood donations and door knock appeals, moving on to raising awareness on health and welfare. Today, he is an advocate for ending violence against girls and women.

As a survivor of violence, Mr Maikitu gained courage to share his experience after attending the Regional Training Programme conducted by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre. He also took part in the Primary Prevention Awareness on Ending Violence Against Girls and Women Training, organised by UN Women’s Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund (Pacific Fund), and the Training of Trainers of the UNITE Campaign Change Makers Toolkit – a training jointly organised by UN Women and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Being part of these trainings empowered Joseva to support gender-related projects at work.

“[The trainings] enabled me to upskill my knowledge on ending violence against women and I have been able to provide assistance to the FRCS team in Suva to develop information, education and communications materials for the gender and emergencies project,” shared Mr Maikitu.

As FRCS’s Gender Champion Volunteer, based at the Labasa Branch, Mr Maikitu's primary role is to conduct awareness-raising sessions in the communities and schools on laws related to gender-based violence and gender discrimination. His outreach activities involve working with the police and community leaders to end stigma and discrimination.

“Being involved with the FRCS has helped me to raise my voice against gender-based violence and also to have courage to talk about barriers, particularly religious and cultural, that are used to suppress and oppress women in the communities I work with,” he said.

He has challenged social norms not only within the communities he works in but also at his home. He is now able to discuss menstruation and respectful relationships with his younger sisters.

Mr Maikitu said that he experiences gender stereotypes and is often ridiculed for advocating to end violence against women, because he “is a man”. To overcome this, he talks about love within families and peace within homes in the absence of violence.

Mr Maikitu's work gained recognition in 2014 when he received two awards – the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Fiji Red Cross National Youth Volunteer Award. He was also recognised for his advocacy on gender based violence during the 2015 Crime Prevention Week held in Labasa by the Fiji Police Force.

His advice to the young people in Fiji is: “Change starts at the family level. Being non-violent is all about changing social norms. Respecting women does not make men weak but it helps in promoting peaceful communities.”

Fiji Red Cross Society is a grant recipient of UN Women’s Pacific Regional Ending Violence against Women Facility Fund (Pacific Fund), which is principally funded by Pacific Women.

Article prepared by: UN Women. Find out more about the Fiji Red Cross Society’s work by visiting their website.

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