Welcome to the first edition of Pacific Women E-News. Delivered bi-monthly, Pacific Women E-News provides readers with information and updates on the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program - an Australian Government supported program focused on improving gender equality and women's empowerment across the Pacific.

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Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development
The Australian Government is supporting an ambitious 10 year $320 million program entitled Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women). This program will improve the political, economic and social opportunities of Pacific women in 14 Pacific countries. Between 2012 and 2022, Pacific Women will work with Pacific governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and multilateral, regional and United Nations agencies to:
  1. Increase the effective representation of women, and women’s interests, through leadership at all levels of decision-making.
  2. Expand women’s economic opportunities to earn an income and accumulate economic assets. 
  3. Reduce violence against women and increase access to support services and to justice for survivors of violence. 
Pacific Women is supporting Pacific countries to meet the commitments made in the 2012 Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration. The Declaration commits leaders to a set of policy actions which directly aim to promote gender equality within the region.
Pacific Women is primarily a country-based program with approximately 70% of funds directed to individual countries.  To guide programming, and to identify the purpose, approach and activities for the first stage of Pacific Women, country plans have been developed for ten countries. All country plans have been developed in close consultation with Pacific women and men, their organisations and national governments.  A Small Island States plan covers Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Palau and Tuvalu.  Regional and multi-country activities are also being implemented to address common issues across the region and to complement and build on country-specific activities. Future country plans will build on initial activities, to respond to emerging contextual issues.
Since its launch in August 2012, approximately $18 million has been allocated to specific activities, some of which have already commenced and are highlighted in the below e-news up-date.

Finalised Pacific Women country plan summaries are now available on the Pacific Women website. These summaries provide details of activities and priorities which will be supported by Pacific Women. Finalised summaries include; Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Small Island States, and Regional activities. 

News from Pacific Women in Kiribati
Violence against women is widespread in Kiribati. The 2010 Kiribati Family Health and Support Study found that 68% of women aged 15-49 years had experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner.
To address violence against women, the Kiribati Government developed the National Policy and Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Sexual and Gender Based Violence (2011-2021). This Policy and Action Plan incorporates community priorities expressed during the Family Health and Support Study, and provides strategies for securing a safer and better future for the people of Kiribati.
A significant proportion of Pacific Women funding to Kiribati is supporting the implementation of this Action Plan, which includes support for the establishment of the Kiribati Women and Children’s Support Centre. A start-up package is to be delivered over the next five years and includes support for staff recruitment and initial operating costs. Support will also be given to establish a fund to meet women’s essential needs, such as health care, transport and legal advice.   

Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls shows her support for Pacific Women
Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja AM, recently launched the short film ‘Working Together to Improve Gender Equality in the Pacific’, at  Australia’s 2014 International Women’s Day Parliamentary Breakfast. The film highlights Australian support for gender equality in the Pacific, through the Pacific Women initiative.

Click on the picture below to listen to Natasha Stott Despoja's announcement.

Pacific Women Communications
Pacific Women has recently released a range of communication materials including; the Pacific Women website, a Pacific Women DVD titled: Working Together to Improve Gender Equality in the Pacific and a series of vignettes which highlight the work of the Program and other Australian aid programs supporting gender equality in the Pacific. These communication materials aim to showcase the voices of Pacific women and men who advocate for change in relation to women's leadership, women's economic empowerment, the prevention of violence against women and creating positive social change towards gender equality across the region. The DVD and vignettes record the perspectives and perceptions regarding the current state of equality in the Pacific and act as a baseline for Pacific Women monitoring and evaluation.

If you would like to share any research or Pacific gender and development resources, please lodge them on the Pacific Women website.

News from Pacific Women in Tonga
Following the March 2013 design mission, one of the agreed initial activities was the engagement of a Tonga Gender Equality Advisor to work with the Tonga Division of Women (DoW) and Australian aid to strengthen gender analysis, gender mainstreaming processes and provide monitoring and evaluation support to Pacific Women partners.

In March, the Advisor made her first in-country visit to meet with representatives from DoW and Australian aid program staff. The meetings built relationships and established key priorities for future inputs. Gender Seminars and gender mainstreaming for specific government officials will be a focus area of support for DoW. It was agreed that the Advisor will also input into new program design documents, monitoring and evaluation and support the DoW with drafting Tonga's Gender and Development implementation plan and monitoring and evaluation framework.

In addition to this support, as part of a coordinated response to the prevention of violence against women, Pacific Women will provide funding to both the Tonga Women and Children’s Crisis Centre (WCCC) and the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNCWC). In November 2013, Pacific Women supported a program design workshop for WCCC which included strategic planning and program design, implementation scheduling and a monitoring and evaluation framework. Technical support will soon commence with TNCWC.

Improving Women's Livelihood's through Access to Safe Markets
In Papua New Guinea, Pacific Women supports UN Women’s Safe City Programme to improve women’s livelihoods by making markets in the capital, Port Moresby safer for conducting business. A majority of women in PNG work in subsistence farming, so safe access to markets to sell their produce is crucial. The Programme works with local authorities and civil society organisations to strengthen the role of police at the markets, prevent and reduce sexual violence and sexual harassment, improve the collection of vendor fees and manage security and cleaning and maintenance services. Improved market infrastructure is also a large component of the programme. The Gerehu Market, for example, has renovated its bathrooms and showers, installed portable running water, and renovated stalls and shaded areas. This has created a safer and more comfortable environment for women market vendors.
Pacific Women is also supporting UN Women’s Markets for Change program, which aims to ensure that marketplaces in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory. The program, which has started, empowers female market vendors to work together to lead market reform. By improving infrastructure, systems, relations and services in the markets, the project will contribute to increased economic opportunities for women and reduced violence against women market vendors. 

News from Pacific Women in Nauru
Nauru is currently finalising its first Pacific Women country plan. The process began with a design mission in February 2014. The design team comprised of an independent team leader, the Pacific Women Director based in Canberra, and staff from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Nauru. Consultations were held with the Government of Nauru, civil society, district level leaders, local businesses and faith-based organisations.

Consultations highlighted a number of key issues in Nauru including; high prevalence of domestic violence, limited access to reproductive health services and information, limited economic opportunities for women and barriers to women in politics. The design mission also identified that there are currently no programs promoting women’s empowerment or gender equality in Nauru.

A draft Nauru country plan is currently being revised for submission to the Government of Nauru. Once endorsed by the Government, implementation of activities will commence. When finalised, a copy of the Nauru country plan summary will be available on the Pacific Women website.

Upcoming Activities: In April, Pacific Women will undertake a Feasibility Study to inform the selection of viable, culturally appropriate and safe opportunities to increase women’s economic opportunities in Kiribati.

The Feasibility Study will also examine ways to prevent the double burden for women, as well as strategies that respond to women’s perceived low income control and decision-making autonomy within households.

Upcoming Activities: In May, Pacific Women will finalise an implementation plan for the Samoa Pacific Women country plan. This activity will also further develop monitoring, evaluation and learning approaches as outlined in the country plan. Pacific Women funding for Samoa's first country plan will be channeled through the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) to support implementation of Samoa’s Gender Plan (2013–2018) in the key outcome areas of: increasing women’s economic empowerment; advancing gender-equality in decision-making and political governance; and reducing violence against women. This support will focus at the Community Development Sector level in order to make an impact on the everyday lives of women, in line with the key principles underpinning Pacific Women. The implementation plan developed through the May mission will result in a five-year plan for community sector support through the MWCSD.

Introducing the Pacific Women Support Unit: The Pacific Women Support Unit, based in Suva, has been established to assist participating countries to implement the Pacific Women program. The main purpose of the Support Unit is to provide services such as, technical assistance and logistical and operational support to enable the implementation of Pacific Women activities. Partnering with Pacific agencies and key development actors, the Support Unit is responsible for sharing good practice and regional ‘public goods’ such as regional research and communications materials. 

In the Solomon Islands, 64% of women who had been in a relationship reported physical or sexual violence or both, from an intimate partner.  More than 90% of women reported intimate partner violence during their pregnancy[i].

Over the next three years, Pacific Women will be providing support to the ‘Let’s Make our Families Safe’ program. This comprehensive violence prevention program aims to support existing and new community level action to prevent violence from happening in Solomon Island homes and communities. A competitive grants program will be launched in the Solomon Islands in the coming months.
[i] Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Study, Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs, SPC, 2009

Latest Research:  A research paper on Women MPs in Samoa and Kiribati developed by the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia – a unit of the Australian National University – was recently released. The research identifies the common profile of successful women MPs in these two Pacific countries, and in doing so identifies a number of characteristics that do matter for potential women political candidates across the region.

Do you have something to contribute to the next Pacific Women E-news? Email to have your Pacific Women story or program highlighted in the next edition.

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