Gender equality is a priority for the Pacific and there are many initiatives across the region that illustrate the progress being made.
These messages come through clearly in “Stories of Gender Progress in the Pacific”, a series put together by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
“These stories reflect the many ways in which countries have responded to the ideals laid out in the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration.” reflects Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor.
“You realize the value of prioritising gender issues at the national planning level. You are also reminded that disturbing, and sadly prevalent concerns like violence against women and girls are being addressed in positive ways by dedicated, caring and supportive professionals. The statistics on violence and widening inequalities in the Pacific are frightening but these stories offer hope.”
Countries from across the region shared their stories. Niue’s story explains how translating the term ‘gender’ from English into vernacular is challenging, while Palau’s highlights the important role Non-Government Organisations, such as the Mechesil Belau (Women of Palau), can have in advocating for better Government policies.
Other featured stories cover education initiatives in Kiribati and PNG, women and leadership in Fiji and Samoa, gender, climate change and disaster response in Vanuatu, innovative counselling responses for gender based violence interventions in Tonga Tuvalu and Nauru, policy and legal drafting in the Republic of Marshall Islands, Australia and Cook Islands, a programme for economic empowerment in Solomon Islands, harassment free workplaces in New Caledonia, and finally, how New Zealand police have been active across the region with their “break the silence, end the violence” campaign.
“The introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, building on the gains made under the Millennium Development Goals, will bring new impetus to address gender inequality in the region”, says the Pacific Community Director-General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga.
“We have a personal and collective responsibility to create safe places for all, so that women and girls can actively help shape a sustainable future for the Pacific. We need to challenge cultural practices that discriminate against women, to dispel negative stereotypes and celebrate those in our region who are leading by example.”
The 16 Days of Activism in the Pacific began on 25 November on the International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, and ended on 10th December, Human Rights Day. The release of these stories helped mark Human Rights Day for both the Forum Secretariat and Pacific Community who work to uphold their values in the Pacific region.