Apr 11, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

A PACIFIC network of peacebuilders committed to progressing commitments to gender inclusive conflict prevention and human security plans to continue more than a decade of work by celebrate the knowledge and strength of their leaders of the network and the role they play in empowering young women: “It’s been ten years since we’ve been working together as part of our first ‘1325’ network that started in late 2006 and formalised in 2007,” shared Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, Executive Producer-Director of femLINKpacific and the Chair of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC).

“It’s a decade of peacebuilding practice in the Pacific progressing 1325. It’s a good time to reaffirm our collaboration and strategise for the next decade.” During the network’s annual Pasifika Peace Talanoa event, organised as part of the Gender Inclusive Conflict Prevention and Human Security project support by the Pacific Islands Forum Non State Actors programme funded by the European Union. GPPAC Pacific works to foster collaboration on gender, preventative action and human security in peace and security forums in the Pacific region including in humanitarian contexts and to network and develop a gender inclusive regional early warning and early response (EWER) framework with human security and protection indicators to prevent the resurgence of conflicts.

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POOR data collection continues to be a resource challenge in Papua New Guinea in the provision of maternal health care delivery, education and child support programmes. This has led to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) urging the government there to prioritise data collection if it is to strategically place services. In her first trip to the country, the Assistant Secretary General to the UNICEF Deputy Director, Fatoumata Ndiaye, said data is fundamental to any strategy.

Ndiaye and Karin Hulshof, UNICEF’s Regional Director for East-Asia and the Pacific visited Papua New Guinea for two days travelling to Goroka and Aziana village of Obura in the Wonenara district. They also met with Prime Minister Peter O’Neil.

“Without accurate data, making policies becomes very, very difficult. And data should be linked up with budget and accountability,” Ndiaye said.

The visit revealed the need for government to properly collect and collate data. “For the government to plan if there are going to be more schools we need to know where is the density of the population, we need to know how many children are supposed to be living there, so the schools can be built in the right size and we don’t have a student teacher ratio of 100 students with one teacher…so there has to be data accrual.”

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Step up in women’s rights

IN recent years, there has been increased awareness on gender-based violencerelated issues in the Pacific, in particular relation to violence against women (VAW). But it was difficult to gauge the overall impact of this effort on the lived experiences of Pacific women. In a snapshot, 11 Pacific Island countries (PICs) now have some form of family protection or domestic violence legislation, and several more have similar bills under consultation or waiting to be tabled in Parliament.

According to Martin Child, Senior Human Rights Adviser at the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), there has absolutely been improvement in the state of women’s human rights in the Pacific in recent years. He said significant increases in many countries in the number of incidents reported to authorities was generally taken to be a positive sign as it signaled increased trust in the police and courts, empowerment of women to speak against their attackers, and improved functioning of the justice chain.

“We have seen the establishment of national gender policies in several countries, significant increases in the capacity of national women’s machineries, and a slow but steady trend of increasing women’s political participation and representation,” he said.

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THE successive natural disasters that impacted the Fiji Islands in the first months of 2017 are a clear signal of the future – greater climate unpredictability, persistent droughts and stronger cyclones, resulting in more complex and frequent humanitarian emergencies. Increasingly, complex and frequent disasters are confronting an existing humanitarian system of response that is not properly prepared to cope.

What is required is more transformative, gender-inclusive agenda for humanitarian response which will ensure the rights and specific needs of women and girls in all their diversities affected by natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies are addressed in national plans, strategies and responses - including disaster risk reduction policies. Additionally, women should not only be portrayed as victims of natural disasters and climate change. Rather, they are equal partners in designing strategies and agreements on how to tackle related issues.

As we reflect on the year since Sever Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston, it is time for reaffirming women as first-responders. It is also a time for government to not just commit, but highlight how they will work with women’s civil society to meet the representation targets in decision making processes.


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Women to the fore

Bank governor calls for greater effort

FIJI’s central bank wants to see more women on the boards of companies listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange. Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor, Barry Whiteside, said there was a need for women of merit on these boards. Whiteside, who is also chairman of the Capital Market Advisory and Development Taskforce, said that there was a general consensus that gender diversity based on merit needed to be seriously considered at the board or top management level.

The notion of gender diversity on boards of listed companies had become an integral indicator of corporate governance, he said. Women hold less than 10 per cent of board positions and approximately 60 per cent of the companies listed on the SPSE do not have a single woman as part of their boards. “It is time that companies took action to break this glass ceiling and take advantage of this untapped pool of qualified board candidates,” Whiteside said. “These statistics also highlight the need for talent development and investment in leadership taking into consideration gender diversity.”

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