EU commits $45m to gender equality

IN a show of commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women around the world, the European Union will fund a $45 million regional program to improve gender equality and address violence against women and girls.

The new Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors.

“We are proud to be funding this new and important partnership program through the 11th European Development Fund in the Pacific, to address the causes of gender inequality and violence against women,” said head of the European Union (EU) Delegation for the Pacific, Julian Wilson.

Earlier this month, he said the program would start on International Women’s Day and aimed to deliver concrete results over the next few years, turning each day into a woman’s day.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, said Australia was very pleased to support the new Pacific Partnership through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program.

“Recent surveys indicate that over 60 per cent of women in the Western Pacific Region have experienced gender-based violence,” Mr Feakes said.

“Women and girls who experience violence deserve accessible and high quality essential services including health, police, justice and social services to help them recover,” he said.

“Through the Pacific Partnership we will also work with individuals and communities to consider the influence of social norms, attitudes and behaviour in preventing violence against women and girls.”

Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Taylor, said full inclusivity, equity and equality was a core value of the forum and was at the heart of its vision for a peaceful and prosperous Pacific.

The Pacific Community’s director general, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, highlighted the importance of the program’s education goals while UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) representative, Aleta Miller, said the program had been developed with the goal to bring all parts of Pacific society together, to successfully reduce levels of violence against women and girls across the Pacific, which was twice the global average.

The program will be jointly implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).