The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat concluded its inaugural sub-regional conference with its members on eliminating domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence with the development of an Outcomes Document collating ministers and senior official’s views and stance around eliminating these issues in the sub-region.
Over the three days (3-5 March), Ministers of Women and senior officials from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialist of New Caledonia gathered to discuss and map out new strategies in the sub-region.
While there is a lot of work being done at the national level to address Domestic, Sexual, and Gender Based Violence it was important to bring together Ministers from the Melanesian sub-region to reflect on how implementation may be improved, as well as how the Melanesian sub-region could work together to elevate the issue at the regional and international level.
The conference was hosted by the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children, Poverty Alleviation of Fiji, the MSG in partnership with the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and UN Women.
In his opening address, Director General for the MSG Secretariat, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli said “We hope that our conversation here will enlighten us on the way forward in not only addressing the harmful effects of sexual and gender based violence but also to consider preventative measures and charting a way forward on how in the words of our 2038 Prosperity for all Plan, be a prosperous, and safe region for our women and children and the people of Melanesia.”
“In this Plan, our, MSG leaders also envisioned the importance of enhancing the role of women in MSG Development process including strengthening women in leadership in Melanesia. Their vision is for women empowerment in all aspects of development, meaning to be equal partners in development in the MSG region. This is one way to balance the scales of equality in our sub-region,” Ambassador Yauvoli added.
“The discussions by Ministers for Women and officials on addressing domestic violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, is a big milestone for the Melanesian sub-region. We recognize the great achievements by the respective Melanesian countries to address these issues and the opportunities that engagement at the sub-regional level provides to strengthen collaborations between the countries. SPC RRRT looks forward to supporting the key actions and recommendations set out in the Outcomes Document of this conference,” said RRRT Director, Miles Young.
At the conference’s closing, Melanesian leaders in attendance developed an Outcomes Document that sets out commitments by the sub-region in relation to addressing domestic, sexual and gender based violence. The Outcomes Document will be utilized by the representatives as they engage in upcoming international spaces such as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) and regional meetings such as the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Leaders meeting and the Ministers of Women meeting.