Issue eight - October 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
Fiji, PNG and Samoa Learn About Adaptive Leadership
Viva Tatawaqa was one of the 21 women leaders and gender advocates at the Adaptive Leadership Training held in Fiji in July. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women.
Strengthening the skills of Pacific women to better represent their gender equality agendas at regional and global forums, was the objective of a pilot Adaptive Leadership Training held in Fiji from 23-25 July 2015.
Attended by 21 women leaders and gender advocates from governments and civil societies from Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Samoa, as well as participants from key regional organisations, the training was part of a Pacific Women
and Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) led pilot program. While PLP has been using adaptive leadership concepts in its support of Pacific leaders since 2012, this was the first time the training brought together advocates working to address regional gender challenges.
Adaptive leadership equips change makers with the skills needed to make positive change on important issues, often in challenging and uncertain environments. The framework focuses on four key distinctions between: (1)
exercising authority and leadership; (2)
technical problems and adaptive challenges; (3)
exercising leadership to make progress on adaptive challenges rather than just having power; and (4)
personality and presence.
Part of the methodology of the training utilised a ‘case in point’ approach where the group or the room became a live case study. Participants used the process to demonstrate learning, to practice concepts and elements of the adaptive leadership framework.
Some of the participants shared their advocacy work and reflection on the three-day training:
Luisa Miracle Tinai
, Fiji Disabled People’s Federation’s Women’s Group President and a member of the Fiji Young Women’s Forum: “I am a young woman with an acquired disability and new to disability work, having started in 2012. I hadn’t heard about it
[adaptive leadership] before but I was excited to be part of the training. I saw it as an opportunity to enhance my capacity. My expectation is to know where I can apply the skills that I will gain, in the work that I do. I want to know if adaptive leadership is what we need to sustain the work that we do for the longer run.”
Read more here
Samoan Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development’s Division for Women’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer: “I was grateful to be part of this training as it’s a concept I had not heard of before. I was interested to see how such an approach to leadership could be used as a tool to support my efforts in Samoa. Those were my initial expectations – to see if there was a way I could be able to adapt it for my work and how to best share it with my colleagues.”
Read more here
, Project Officer, Bougainville Women's Federation: “What I learn here is not only for myself, it is for the Federation and all the women we work with. I learnt how we can change existing structures and attitudes. I also learnt that projects that have not done well can be used as examples of how to do something better next time round."
Read more here
, Management Collective Members of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality Fiji (DIVA for Equality): “It would be a real challenge for me to practice this form of leadership. Speaking about it is one thing but actually practicing it would be something else but from what I have seen and heard since the beginning of this training is that, you will never get to the real issue if you don’t talk about the uncomfortable things.”
Read more here
, Samoa, Member of the Young Women's Christian Association and FRIDA: The Young Feminist Fund’s Advisory Committee: “
[The training] has provoked us to think deeply. As advocates we get many opportunities to get together and speak. At this training we are doing a lot of thinking and I feel that there is more freedom to delve into the issues because there is no restriction on time.”
Read more here
Seventy-eight per cent of the participants found the training useful, having learnt new concepts and skills and a willingness to adapt it in their work. Some key recommendations to Pacific Women
and PLP by the participants include the convening of a refresher session for the pilot training participants, as well as sharing the experience and learnings of this training at the Pacific Women’s
leadership dialogue proposed for 2016.
Pathway to Establishing RMI’s First Support Service for Survivors of VAW
Women United Together Marshall Islands staff. Photo: Emily Miller, Pacific Women.
As part of their project to establish the first ever support service for survivors of violence against women and girls in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI), in partnership with Pacific Women
, has been busy implementing a comprehensive community engagement program on the design of the proposed service.
Early results show that women want the following support services: alternative, safe accommodation for women who are experiencing violence; a focus on prevention of violence against women through community education and awareness raising regarding women’s rights as well as the laws surrounding violence against women; intervention programs with men who choose to commit violence against women; assistance in accessing justice, especially through the assistance of the police.
WUTMI has consulted more than 175 people from four atolls, including through discussions with over 150 local women in participatory community consultation workshops and case study interviews with women who have experienced intimate partner domestic violence. Ninety-five of the women who have participated in the workshops completed a questionnaire about their experience of violence, with 56 per cent self-identifying that they had experienced some form of domestic violence.
A number of issues have emerged, including observations from facilitators that before participating in these consultation, the majority of the women were unaware of what violence against women is, many being led to believe that it is normal or a natural way of life.
WUTMI’s Domestic Violence Counselling Service Project Coordinator, Lilly Samson, shared her experience of seeing women realise for the first time that they are survivors of violence: “So many of the ladies, they think this type of violence from their husbands is normal. I see in the workshop when they realise it is not. It can be hard for them to learn this but also makes them happy to know
. And then they want to know more and how to stop it.”
Participants of the workshop included representatives from women’s groups who also identified the lack of awareness of domestic violence as a crime, as one of the main reasons why violence against women is an underreported experience and have questioned the reliability of the official statistics of the number of women and girls experiencing domestic violence in the RMI.
Women who were familiar with domestic violence, tended to only associate it with physical violence. A workshop participant shared: “He was once in jail for punching my daughter on the head with a rock. She called my brother and my brother called the police right away and they went and
arrest him.” Said another: “…before we only think physical abuse is the only abuse but now we know that there are more than this
On the topic of unwanted sex, many women expressed shock and disbelief when learning that wives are not obliged to have sex with their husbands and that men who coerce or force their partners to have sex are perpetrating sexual violence. Shared a participant: “I didn’t know before that we have right to say no to our husband when we don’t have to have sex with them
.” Said another participant: “I have so many friends do this but I did not know. I always thought because they’re partners or husband and wife, its ok
The consultations also revealed that some women regularly undergo physical inspections by their partners, to determine if she is having sex with someone else. It is only during these workshops, that women learnt for the first time that this is a tactic men use to police women’s choices and actions, conforming them to rigid gender roles that restrict their freedoms and blame them for intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Many women are unware that these actions are a crime under the laws of the country.
These tactics of intimate partner domestic violence further reinforce other notions of gender norms that allow men to use violence with impunity, such as the belief that men cannot control their sexual desires and that women are to blame if their husbands cheat on them. Notions of femininity require women to prioritise family harmony and stability over their own rights and well-being.
* Quotes are verbatim.
Article prepared by WUTMI.
Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa
L-R: DFAT Tonga Post's Gender Program Manager Ronicera Fuimaono with Dr. Namulauulu Nuualofa Potoi at the election information session held in Apia. The session focused on the impact of the Constitutional Amendment Act of 2013 that guaranteed 10 per cent of seats in Samoa's Legislative Assembly for women. Photo: UN Women.
As Samoa winds up for next year’s general election, a joint program is drawing on the combined expertise, resources and relationships of the United Nations and government to help increase the number of women in parliament. Just three women are currently in the 49-seat parliament. In the 2011 election, just eight of the 162 candidates were women.
The Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa (IPPWS) Program is a joint program between UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Samoa, with funding from Pacific Women
, UNDP and UN Women.
The March 2016 election is the first since a constitutional amendment in 2013 that reserved 10 per cent of seats in parliament for women. Samoa is the first country in the Pacific, outside of French Polynesia, to put in place measures to ensure women’s representation at the national level. If five women are not elected, extra seats will be added; however, if five women are elected then the measure is not activated.
“The 10 per cent mark should not be seen as a target, but a minimum,”
explains UN Women’s Country Program Coordinator for Samoa, Suisala Mele Maualaivao. “Ideally, we’d like to see a much higher representation of women in Samoa’s government and the IPPWS program is designed to support candidates, voters, and parliamentarians in making that happen.”
The IPPWS program focuses on awareness-raising, capacity building for women participating in the parliamentary process, and providing information and training to political parties ahead of the election. It also includes post-election mentoring support for all members of parliament on subjects such as gender-responsive budgeting and gender-sensitive legislation.
Since it launched in April 2015 workshops have been held for journalism students, nongovernmental organisations, potential candidates and community trainers on the amendment itself, election processes and the issue of women in parliament. Over the next few months more training will be held for potential candidates including a practice parliament.
Partners such as the National Council of Women, Samoa Ala Mai and Samoa’s Umbrella Organisation for NGOs (SUNGO) have also begun rolling out their contributions to the program. Elections Talk, a weekly radio talkback show that provides a platform for partners, women candidates and local experts to reach both urban and rural populations started broadcasting in August, while a radio drama series that follows the challenges a woman candidate faces on her journey to the election went on air in September. SUNGO’s trainers will be heading out into communities across the country in October to help educate Samoans about their voting rights, registration processes, and the importance of having women in parliament.
IPPWS Coordinator, Gatoloai Tili Afamasaga, says increasing women’s political participation in Samoa relies on a shift in attitudes around the roles women can and should play in politics: “There is a tremendous amount of leadership potential among Samoa’s women, and they have a right to a voice in parliament. These activities provide opportunities to share information and resources, answer questions, provoke discussion and encourage change.”
The IPPWS program officially launched in April 2015 and will finish at the end of September 2016.
Article prepared by UN Women. For more information visit their website and Facebook.
Solomon Islands Women Entrepreneurs Participate in Business Expo
SIWIBA Coordinator Nina Tuhaika (second from right) and members set up their stall at the Expo in Port Moresby. Photo: SIWIBA.
The Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA) attended the Digicel ‘Women in Business Expo’ in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) from 2 - 12 July 2015.
The PNG Expo, which coincided with the 2015 Pacific Games, was an initiative of the PNG Women in Business Foundation to raise the profile of women entrepreneurs in the small and medium enterprises. SIWIBA was invited to participate in the Expo by the President of the PNG Women in Business Foundation, Janet Sape. According to her, the Expo was “an ideal avenue to promote trade and commerce opportunities in the region for our women”.
Eight women from SIWIBA attended the Expo, taking handicrafts from all the nine provinces in the Solomon Islands. The women sold more than 3,000 products on behalf of the broader SIWIBA membership. This trip provided opportunities for SIWIBA to increase its partnerships and linkages with similar women’s organisations in PNG. It provided the members valuable insights on the potential to connect with larger markets outside of Honiara and the demand for niche products from Solomon Islands, in the region.
The Australian High Commission in Honiara provided financial support to assist SIWIBA’s participation in the Expo. This support is in addition to DFAT’s three year financial support of more than $485,000 to SIWIBA announced in October last year, under the Solomon Islands Pacific Women
Speaking at SIWIBA’s 10th
anniversary celebrations this year, Australian High Commissioner to Honiara, Andrew Byrne said: “Running a business, whether it be large or small, is about much more than just earning an income. The vision of SIWIBA is that women will also be empowered - that their businesses will give them a sense of pride and an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.”
Article prepared by DFAT, Honiara Post.
Registration Signals Positive Change Ahead for Vanuatu Market Vendors
The Treasurer of the Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association, Janes Kalo (far right) signs the founding constitution at the Port Vila Central Market on 15 May 2015. Photo: UN Women.
Market vendors in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila are looking forward to improvements in their work place as registration of the country’s first fresh-produce market association took effect in early July.
The Silae Vanua Market Vendors Association (Silae Vanua) has gained certification under the Charitable Associations (Incorporation) Act. This gives the association legal standing to engage in decision-making, and agree on improvements and operating conditions with market managers and the municipal council in charge of the Port Vila Central Market.
Women make up over 90 per cent of Silae Vanua which includes vendors from off-shore islands around the main island of Efate. In total around 1,000 market vendors are represented by the association.
Registration of Silae Vanua followed large celebrations at the signing of the association’s founding constitution attended by more than 200 people at the Port Vila Central Market on 15 May 2015.
Silae Vanua spokeswoman, Salomè Perkonè said the association is focused on growth, with a recruitment drive next on the agenda: "Over time we hope to build up the skills and resources to represent our members in any market in Vanuatu where Silae Vanua membership is represented.”
Silae Vanua was set up as a result of “Getting Started” workshops held in Vanuatu in late 2014 as part of UN Women’s Markets for Change project. The workshops focus on supporting market vendors in getting organised so they can take part in the decision-making processes that govern their workplace; an important part of this process is forming and running representative, inclusive and democratic associations.
Markets for Change International Project Manager for Vanuatu, Begona Vazquez, said many members of Silae Vanua lost their homes and gardens when Category 5 Cyclone Pam devastated the islands in the south-east of Vanuatu on 13 March 2015. She said it is testament to their determination that work on the founding constitution and incorporation of Silae Vanua maintained momentum in the months following the cyclone: "This is an exciting step ahead for all market vendors in Vanuatu. Participating in economic activities, such as selling surplus produce at the markets, allows women to effect positive change in their own lives and their communities, with ripple effects for the whole nation,”
she said. “We look forward to working with the association and local government counterparts to establish market places that support women’s economic aspirations, are safe, inclusive, and accountable to the needs of women.”
Article prepared by: UN Women. 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. The six-year initiative includes three markets sites in Vanuatu – Port Vila, Luganville and Marobe – as well as five Shefa Province ring road markets.
Formal Education Opportunities for Rural Women in Fiji
L-R: Sonam Narayan, Mereseini Kuruivadra and Nandini Raman are part of the 25 scholarship recipients working towards a Certificate in Beauty & Spa Therapy and a more secure future. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women.
“A dream come true
” is how students enrolled at the South Pacific Academy of Beauty Therapy described their selection into the Academy’s scholarship program.
Supported by Pacific Women
, the Nadi-based Academy, is providing 25 students (24 women and one man) from rural areas around Fiji between the ages of 18 and 40, a chance to attain a Certificate in Beauty & Spa Therapy Level IV.
The program is the brainchild of award winning business woman Debra Sadranu, who is the Principal of the Academy and Managing Director of Essence of Fiji: Rejuvenation Centre and the chain of Senikai Spas around Fiji. The Centre is where the students do their theoretical and practical sessions along with practical attachments throughout the Senikai chain.
The Academy is recognised by the Fiji Higher Education Commission and is a member of the Advanced Association of Beauty Therapists Australia which provides quality assurance on the curriculum to maintain international standards.
According to Sadranu, who established the Academy in 1998, the number of students enrolling at the Academy declined significantly after the Fiji National Provident Fund stopped giving educational assistance to students wishing to study in private institutions: “The demand for students graduating from our course is high in the tourism industry but we were unable to meet the demand because students were unable to enrol without FNPF assistance. We tried to do a scheme, where if students were able to pay half the fees, the Academy would make up for the other half, but the majority still couldn’t afford it. Our courses are of the same quality as those in Australia but provided at half the price but we still had that issue.”
Through Pacific Women’s
support, the Academy is now not only able to cover the tuition cost of 25 of the students but also provide them with text books, uniforms and living allowance - a much needed relief for all the students, who come from low income earning families.
“All of them also earn trainee wages for the days they are rostered on to do sessions with clients, which is part of their practical work. The good thing about this course is that not only do students learn about beauty therapy, they also learn about the anatomy, financial literacy and stock management. It’s quite holistic. The best part is that demand for their skills is quite high so they will have no difficulty securing jobs in the spa industry once they graduate,"
Head Trainer Anjaleen Kumar has been working with Senikai Spas for the last 10 years and is now training the students. She says she can see the difference in the student confidence as days go by: “They’re more confident, asking questions, helping each other and are just as eager for the theory sessions, as they are for the practical ones.”
Two of the students reflect on how this opportunity is improving their lives and empowering them to be more assertive in everyday situations:
, 27: “I am really glad that I got this opportunity. Before I was always getting help from my mum and my younger sister, and being the eldest child in the family, I didn’t really feel good about always asking for help. After doing this course, I will not only be able to support my seven-year-old son and myself but them as well. After my divorce when I wasn’t working, people had tried to get me married off again but after I have done my course, I can tell them that I can support myself and don’t need a man to support me. I can do it myself.”
Read more here
, 18: “I was so happy when I got the scholarship! My mum was very happy too and she supported my decision to come here. She said she wanted a good future for me. After I finish studying I want to be able to support them better with what I earn. After I finish my studies, I would love to work in other Pacific islands, such as the Cook Islands. I want to earn money and hopefully save up to do a diploma. It would also be nice to become a trainer one day.”
Read more here