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Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development summary

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) commits up to $320 million over 10 years in 14 Pacific Islands Forum member countries. Pacific Women supports Pacific countries to meet the commitments in the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Gender Equality Declaration.

  • More than 60 per cent of women in some Pacific Island countries have experienced violence.
  • Across Pacific Island countries, men outnumber women in paid employment outside the agricultural sector by approximately two to one.
  • Women make up just over seven per cent of parliamentarians in Pacific Island countries (the lowest rate in the world), compared to a global average of around 24 per cent.

The outcomes sought by Pacific Women are:

  1. Women, and women's interests, are increasingly and effectively represented and visible through leadership at all levels of decision making.
  2. Women have expanded economic opportunities to earn an income and accumulate economic assets.
  3. Violence against women is reduced and survivors of violence have access to support services and to justice.
  4. Women in the Pacific will have a stronger sense of their own agency, supported by a changing legal and social environment and through increased access to the services they need.

Program Governance

An Advisory Board comprising 12 prominent Pacific women and men guides the program. Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls is an observer to the Board.

Program Delivery and Implementation

Country plans are developed in consultation with Pacific women and men, their organisations and national governments. Regional and multi-country activities address common regional issues and complement country activities to achieve greater impact. The Pacific Women Support Unit has been established in Fiji with a national sub-office in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to provide technical and administrative support to DFAT and to Pacific Women's implementing partners.

Since its launch in August 2012, Pacific Women has expensed approximately $175 million. Pacific Women has funded 155 projects, working with 147 partners across 14 Pacific Island countries.

Examples of Achievements

Pacific Women has supported:

  • 64,262 women and girls to access crisis support services
  • 6,613 men to undertake male advocacy training
  • 12,512 women to take on leadership roles at community, provincial and national levels
  • 17,960 women to access financial literacy training and financial services
  • 653,877 people to participate in community awareness, outreach and advocacy activities
  • 4,889 women to access formal opportunities to share their ideas and learn from each other

Leadership and Decision Making

Women's representation on local councils in Tuvalu has increased from six to 10 per cent, with female presidents on two islands. This follows support to community discussions on acceptance of women leaders.

While no women were elected to the PNG parliament in 2017, women who completed candidate training were four times more likely to finish among the top five candidates and twice as likely to finish in the top 10. Candidates reported they did better than expected and attributed this to the training.

In Fiji, FemLINKPacific's radio network tracks approaching weather systems and has broadcasted information and early warning messages to 349 women leaders representing 31,180 members including people with disability and the LGBTQI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and intersex] community. Members receive and share information on disaster preparedness and food and water security.

Women's Economic Empowerment

Market vendors in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu report improvements in the market places, including market organisation, sense of safety and security of produce. Council staff and market managers have positively changed their behaviour towards women market vendors and now inform and influence others on the rights of women market vendors.

Women and men involved in the CARE coffee project in PNG reported more equitable distribution of household workload between husbands and wives. Some farmers have saved money and have diversified their income. Several farmers reported building houses. The coffee project is now supporting the establishment of village savings and loans associations.

Ending Violence against Women

Pacific Island country governments have expanded protection for women and children, including through legislating to criminalise domestic violence in the Cook Islands, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Kiribati. Crisis services have been established or expanded in the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The PNG Business Coalition for Women has introduced workplace policies on family and sexual violence, sexual harassment and gender smart safety that has reduced staff absenteeism and increased employee loyalty to companies.

UNICEF's Positive Parenting programs in PNG have reduced harsh parenting practices, including verbal abuse, corporal punishment with an accompanying reduction in reported spousal violence.

Enhancing Agency

Governments in the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Solomon Islands have developed or updated their national gender policies.

The inaugural Pacific Feminist Forum in 2017 brought together over 100 women from across Pacific Island countries in three days of networking, sharing and learning where they launched the Pacific Feminists Charter for Change.

For more information on the program please see Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development

Last Updated: 13 March 2019
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