An agreement to support and facilitate the development of a regional domestic violence counselling framework to ensure consistent, timely and quality standards for counselling support for survivors and victims of domestic violence. was among the key agreements made at the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Regional Working Group on the Implementation of Family Protection/Domestic Violence Legislation (RWG) held recently in Nadi, Fiji.
This agreement will also support RWG member countries that are developing or reviewing their national counselling framework.
Speaking at the meeting, Moliei Vaai, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Court Administration of the Samoa Government, and chair of the RWG said, “Violence against women constitutes the most severe expression of gender-based discrimination and disempowerment of women and girls. To downplay it is to minimise the real threat that it has to democracy, peace, and security of life.”
The RWG provides a platform for high-level government representation from ministries responsible for implementing domestic violence (DV) legislation. It meets annually to share progress, challenges faced, lessons learned and resources available in advancing implementation of the domestic violence legislation in the Pacific region; and to discuss common regional strategies and initiatives to improve the implementation of DV legislation. Membership on the RWG is by countries/states with existing family protection/domestic violence legislation.
Also at the meeting were Christine Clarke, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, and Louisa Wall, New Zealand’s Ambassador for Gender Equality (Pacific)/Tuia Tāngata.
“When we speak about gender equality and women’s empowerment, we speak to this as a shared challenge – we all still have far to go on the journey towards true gender equality and we have much to learn from each other,” said Ms Clarke. “Gender equality is a matter of human rights and a pre-requisite for sustained peace, security, and prosperity. Barriers still exist. They are many and intersecting. But we can dismantle them,” she added.
Prior to the RWG meeting, approximately 150 government and civil society delegates from across twelve countries converged at the Regional Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) Services Symposium in Nadi, Fiji from 17 to 19 August 2022 to dialogue and advance best practice and a survivor-centered approach to EVAWG services for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV). The symposium was convened ahead of the RWG meeting to highlight key progress that has been made across the region by respective service providers to forward national systems to respond to GBV, including standards for GBV counselling and innovative models for EVAW coordination.
As the meeting drew to a close, member countries and states of the RWG deliberated on and endorsed, in principle, an outcomes document which would guide its work over the next year. The RWG currently has representation from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia national government, and the state governments of Kosrae and Pohnpei, Fiji, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Samantha Rina, Communications, Visibility and Engagement Officer, Human Rights and Social Development division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]
Vilimaina Naqelevuki, Communications Assistant, Pacific Women Lead, Human Rights and Social Development division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]
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