Issue four - November 2014

Delivered bi-monthly, Pacific Women E-News provides readers with information and updates on Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development - an Australian Government program focused on improving gender equality and women's empowerment across the Pacific. Catch up on what you missed in the last edition of Pacific Women E-News here.

Second Pacific Women Advisory Board Meeting held in Canberra

Pacific Women Advisory Board Back row: (L-R) Hon Maere Tekanene (Kiribati); Ms Jane Kesno (PNG); Ms Andie Fong Toy (PIFS); Natasha Stott Despoja (Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls); Ms Kathy Klugman (First Assistant Secretary, Pacific Division); Dr Lawrence Kalinoe (PNG); Reverend Sereima Lomaloma (Fiji) and Mrs. Fekitamoeloa TM ‘Utoikamanu (SPC) Front row: Ms Savina Nongebatu (Solomon Islands) Absent: Ms Merilyn Tahi (Vanuatu); Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa (Samoa); Dr Colin Tukuitonga (SPC)

The Australian Government considers women’s economic empowerment and enhancing women’s leadership opportunities in the Pacific a foreign policy priority. The Advisory Board to Pacific Women held its second meeting on 12 August to consider progress, identify areas for further work and set priorities. A copy of the report can be found here.

Further information on Pacific Women can be found on the DFAT website here and on the Pacific Women website here.

Board member profiles can be accessed here.

Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) Tonga Turns Five

‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki may have one of the toughest jobs in Tonga.

The Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) Tonga, and her staff, deal with cases of domestic violence, rape, incest and other forms of sexual and physical abuse involving women and children, on a daily basis. As the Centre turns five this month, Guttenbeil-Likiliki takes some time out to speak to Pacific Women on some of the challenges and triumphs of half a decade’s work.

In Tonga, 3 out of 4 women have experienced physical or sexual violence over their lifetime[1]. Despite this statistic, there are some who would prefer not to acknowledge the existence of such crimes occurring in the island nation. The staff at the Centre however, are adamant that they will continue operating for as long as women and children need assistance.

“I’m very aware there are people who absolutely hate it when I open my mouth; and there are people who are very thankful because they learn from our advocacy – it’s like a complete breakthrough," shared Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

Since the Centre's inception, Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki cannot remember a single woman or child ever reporting a case of violence or abuse immediately after it happened.

Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre Tonga, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki. Photo: Pacific Women

 “The fact that she has chosen to walk through our doors or has contacted us whether by telephone or social media means she is at a crisis point. Women can be victims of violence from the first day of the relationship and put up with it for up to 30 years.  It is typically those who have been abused over and over again who finally make the decision to seek help."

Pacific Women strongly supports the work of the WCCC and contributes to its multi-year core funding. “The Australian Government has supported us financially through various means and the best thing about it is that we’ve always remained behind the driver’s seat. This has been part and parcel of the Centre’s success – being able to roll out programs that are relevant to Tonga and developed specifically from the stories of the victims and survivors and not just a cut and paste job," she said.  

The Centre also works closely with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and the Vanuatu Women’s Crisis Centre which often mentor the younger organisation.  

An extended version of the interview can be accessed here.

[1] National Study on Domestic Violence Against Women in Tonga (2009).

Supporting Ni-Vanuatu Women Trainers

With support from Pacific Women, the Vanuatu Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Sector Strengthening Program has been assisting women to become recognised trainers in the tourism industry.  
TVET works with the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC), to identify Ni-Vanuatu women with skills and training potential in high-demand areas, such as handicraft production and spa and massage services, and provide an opportunity to attain internationally-recognised certification.
Once certified, these women are contracted through the provincial TVET Centres across Vanuatu to deliver training and coaching services to other women to improve their skills and income generation capacity.
Spa therapist turned businesswoman and trainer, Eslyn Turner, a graduate of the Program, believes she is now better equipped to customise her own training to meet the specific context and needs of rural areas. After working in the industry for many years, Ms Turner is successfully running her own spa business in Port Vila.  She was identified by the TVET Program as an excellent candidate to become a TVET Centre ‘Local Industry Coach’ – engaged to deliver industry-standard training in the outer islands where demand for tourist spa services is high, but skilled therapists are lacking. 

Some of the women supported by the TVET Program to become internationally certified trainers. Eslyn Turner is first from left. Photo: TVET Sector Strengthening Program

“I have learned how to plan and deliver training that will make sense for women living in the provinces.  Before, I delivered some training in spas in town but I did not know very much about customisation or different ways of assessment.  I am so glad that, as well as running my own business, I will now also be recognised as a trainer and with the TVET Program can help other women in the islands to improve their incomes and small businesses.”

Article prepared by: Anna Gibert, TVET Sector Strengthening Program.

For more information on the TVET Sector Strengthening program, visit their website.

Working with the Government of Solomon Islands to Improve Gender Equality

Pacific Women is increasing its support to the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs to improve gender equality in the Solomon Islands. With support from Australian-funded advisers and volunteers, key policies are being development by the Ministry of Women to establish a solid foundation for its future work. This includes planning activities the Ministry intends to undertake in the next few years, with other ministries, local industry and community organisations.
The Ministry’s National Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Development provides a guideline for its programs. It covers a diverse range of areas including health, education, economics, leadership and the prevention of gender-based violence. It also recognises the importance of ensuring that gender equality is considered in all government programming.
Both the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments recognise the need to create opportunities for women to increase their income. To support this, assistance is also being provided to the Ministry to develop and implement a Women’s Economic Empowerment strategy and implementation plan.

(L-R) Ministry of Women’s Women Development Division Director Janet Tuhaika and Former Senior Social Development Advisor Jan Edwards. Photo: DFAT, Honiara Post
Another exciting initiative, facilitated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands with support from Pacific Women, has been the inclusion of gender indicators in the performance agreements of Government permanent secretaries. Early assessment indicates that the permanent secretaries are endeavouring to adhere to these agreements. The Ministry of Women is working with the gender focal points established in each ministry to deliver on the gender outcomes.

Other support provided includes the finalisation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and, through DFAT's justice program, a desk officer to coordinate the implementation the new Family Protection Act.
Article prepared by: Rosalie Nongebatu and Sarah Kernot of DFAT, Honiara Post.

WUTMI Welcomes New Domestic Violence Counselling Service Advisor

Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) has been the leading voice breaking the silence on violence against women in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

As part of the Initiative for a Better Response to Address Violence Everywhere (iBRAVE), supported by Pacific Women and funded through the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, intense advocacy from WUTMI and its supporters resulted in the passing of the Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act 2011 (DVPPA).

This Act makes domestic violence an offence and outlines the provisions available to increase the safety of women experiencing domestic violence through protection orders.  The passing of the law has been a significant milestone in the small atoll nation’s efforts to eliminate domestic violence, something that is directly experienced by 1 in 3 Marshellese women and also has harmful broader social impacts on the island nation. 

Responding to the support needs of women and children experiencing domestic violence and facilitating access to the protections of the new law have been highlighted as an integral part of the Marshall Islands response to domestic violence, an issue that has also been included as a priority in Pacific Women’s Marshall Islands Country Plan.
Supported by Pacific Women, WUTMI has engaged a Domestic Violence Counselling Service Advisor to work with them to develop a support service for women and their children who have experienced domestic violence.  Working alongside WUTMI’s Director, Kathryn Relang and the rest of the WUTMI team, Alison Birchall will assist  to develop a domestic violence counselling centre and to strengthen the knowledge and skills of WUTMI staff to provide crisis and case management support to women and children experiencing domestic violence.

(L-R) WUTMI's Kathryn Relang, Executive Director and Alison Birchall, Domestic Violence Counselling Service Advisor

This work will be further enhanced through a close relationship between the WUTMI domestic violence counselling service program and the well-established and successful Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre.

Article prepared by: WUTMI's Kathryn Relang, Executive Director and Alison Birchall, Domestic Violence Counselling Service Advisor. The DVCS Advisor role is funded by DFAT, through the PACTAM mechanism, managed by Australian Volunteers International (AVI)

Support for Victims of Sorcery Related Violence in PNG

Sorcery related violence in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea is often extreme, leading to death and torture of women and men, often at the hands of people within their own communities. Welcome assistance is now being provided to survivors of such violence through support provided by the recently established Rapid Response Teams.

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) in the Kerowagi district, Simbu Province is the first of three such teams to be established in three provinces in the Highlands of PNG. Rapid Response Teams have been formed under a larger Oxfam project called the Support for Highlands Women’s Human Rights Defenders’ Network (HRDN), funded by Pacific Women.

The RRT in the Kerowagi district includes representatives from the Kerowagi police, the Law and Justice's Family and Sexual Violence Unit, the district Family Support Centre, the Community Development and Child Protection Office, the district and village court, the public prosecutor, and church representatives. These groups are facilitated under RRT by the Oxfam Kup Women for Peace initiative.

All RRT members operate collaboratively to provide assistance to survivors of violence. Initial intervention is conducted by the police to remove the victim from danger, other members of the RRT then provide a range of services on a case by case basis, including refuge accommodation if needed, medical care and referral to health and counselling services, criminal investigation and legal and justice services when required, and repatriation of victims.

“The response is good, in the past 12 months we have been saving many lives, rescuing them from situations of violence and we will continue to do that. As a police officer it is my job to save people’s lives and being a part of the Rapid Response Unit has helped me to do my job better so I am satisfied. Once the victims are safe and receiving assistance from other members of the RRT team my job continues trying to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators”, said Peter Larry, Kerowagi Task Force Commander.

(L-R) Rapid Response Team members in front of the Kup Women for Peace office including Human Rights Defenders Network representatives, the Task Force Commander, the Kerowagi District focal person, and Chairperson. Photo credit: Michelle Kopi, Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen program. 

Demand for assistance from the RRT has tripled in the past 12 months as word spreads that help is available in a region where extreme violence against women including rape, kidnapping, domestic violence and sorcery attacks has for too long been viewed as an unavoidable part of life in the region.

Article prepared by: Trevor Ole and Michelle Kopi, SPSN Program PNG and Gabrielle Reid of DFAT, PNG Post
Jenny Shaw, Vanuatu.
Photo:DFAT photo library

About Pacific Women
Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) is an ambitious ten year $320 million program supported by the Australian Government.

This program supports the 14 Pacific Island Forum Countries to implement the commitments made in the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration (2012) to improve the political, economic and social opportunities of women. Pacific Women partners with Pacific governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and multilateral and regional agencies.
Pacific Women is being implemented across the region through the development of a regional plan and individual country plans, and with regional coordination and support from the Pacific Women Support Unit, based in Suva.
Maylin Sese, Solomon Islands
Photo: Pacific Leadership Program

Upcoming Events

Coming Soon - Interactive Map
For 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, Pacific Women will launch an interactive map to show the nature and scope of its programs in 14 countries of the Pacific region. Designed to be both visually engaging and informative, the map will be disaggregated by country and thematic focus area of Ending Violence Against Women, Economic Empowerment, Leadership and Decision Making and Enabling Change. Hosted on Pacific Women's website, the map will also give users easy access to country plan summaries.

Pacific Women in Business Conference
From the 26th-28th November, women business leaders from around the Pacific will converge in Nadi to attend the second Pacific Women in Business Conference – the biennial flagship women’s event of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO).

Supported by Pacific Women, the conference, first held in 2012, brings together women entrepreneurs, community leaders and government officials to discuss strategies to enhance women entrepreneurs networking opportunities and promote greater development of women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific.

The Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja, will be a guest speaker.

Information on the registration process and conference program can be accessed here.
Mary Jack, Vanuatu
Photo: Pacific Leadership Program

Latest Updates

Review of the Revised Pacific Platform for Action for the Advancement of Women

At the 12th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 5th Pacific Ministers for Women Meeting held in the Cook Islands in October 2013, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community was directed to review the Revised Pacific Platform of Action (RPPA) on the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality, due to expire in 2015.

The Review, which is supported by Pacific Women is now underway and will have three dimensions including:

1) Assessment of the effectiveness of the RPPA  in informing, guiding and influencing policy development and implementation across Pacific Island Countries and Territories;
2) Assessment of the relevance of the RPPA thematic areas in light of national, regional and international developments, agreements and commitments;
3) Reducing the burden on countries through improved coordination and harmonised processes, especially in relation to design and delivery of activities and reporting on progress in achieving gender equality and the advancement of women at national and regional level.

A micro-finance client selling her products in the market Nadi, Fiji.
Photo: DFAT photo library

Feasibility Study:  Increasing Economic Opportunities for Women in Fiji

A recommendation from consultations held during the Fiji Pacific Women country plan design mission was to consider further investigation into the best approaches for supporting women’s economic empowerment.
A feasibility study, which is now underway will seek to inform the selection of viable, sustainable, culturally appropriate and safe opportunities to increase women’s economic opportunities in Fiji. In addition, the feasibility study will provide an assessment of women’s economic participation in Fiji that examines the gender division of labour (gender roles and responsibilities); women’s access to and control over resources and women’s practical and strategic needs in relation to economic empowerment.  

The study will propose recommendations to DFAT that include examination of viable economic empowerment options for women, ways to prevent double burden for women, as well as strategies that respond to women’s perceived low income control and decision-making autonomy within households.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed by mid-December.

Individual Deprivation Measure Launched

Graphics: IWDA

In the last edition of Pacific Women's E-News, we highlighted a new approach to assessing poverty using the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM). IDM measures the poverty of individuals, not just households and takes into account the differences in how women and men experience poverty – including within the household.

IDM is the result of an international research collaboration involving the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA). The project included participatory research with thousands of poor women and men across six countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific (including Fiji). The IDM assesses 15 dimensions of life that poor women and men say define poverty – food, water, shelter, health, education, energy/fuel, sanitation, relationships, clothing, violence, family planning, environment, voice, time-use and work.

IWDA's Research and Policy Adviser Jo Crawford was in Fiji in early October to share with local CSO's and other stakeholders, the plans for undertaking a national survey using IDM in Fiji.

Supported by Pacific Women, this survey is a partnership between IWDA, the Fiji Bureau of Statistics and the Australian National University's State, Society and Governance in Melanisia program. ANU's Dr Priya Chattier was the lead researcher for Fiji for Phases 1 and 2 of the research that underpins the IDM, and will also work on the IDM survey.

The IDM tool and research report was officially launched on 22 October at the ACFID Council in Canberra by Jeni Klugman, Senior Adviser at the World Bank.

For more information on the research, read the report here.

For more information on IDM, visit the IWDA website.
Photo: DFAT photo library

Private Sector Responses to Violence Against Women: Gender inequality and violence against women continue to persist in the Pacific region, undermining economic growth, human development and poverty reduction.

Violence against women has significant economic costs in terms of expenditures on service provision, lost income for women and their families, decreased productivity, and negative impacts on future human capital formation. The health and economic impacts together fracture individuals, families, communities and societies overall [1].

The Pacific Women Support Unit has recently commissioned a background paper that will document the costs of violence against women to the economy and private sector in the Pacific, profile the work that the private sector is doing to respond to violence against women and outline strategies used by the private sector to assist in the response to violence against women. Once finalised, the background paper will be shared with Pacific Women stakeholders.
[1] The World Bank (2013). Gender Equality and Development. Intimate Partner Violence: Economic Costs and Implications for Growth and Development.

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