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Fiji starts national consultations on action plan to prevent violence against women and girls
05:08 am GMT+12, 25/11/2020, Fiji

The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation (MWCPA) held a high-level public event today to mark the launch of the national consultations across Fiji to produce a whole-of-government and whole-of-community, evidence-based, measurable, inclusive and funded five-year National Action Plan (2021-2026).  
 
Officiating at the event, Fiji's Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama said, “I am quite pleased to be here today for the official launch of the national consultation process for the development of the Fiji National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against All Women and Girls. Fiji will be the first Pacific island country and one of the only two countries globally -alongside Australia - to have a whole-of-government, whole-of-population, inclusive and fully funded evidence-based approach to developing a national action plan to prevent violence against all women and girls before it starts”.
 
“It pains me to say that two of every three women in Fiji have experienced physical or sexual violence from a male intimate partner in their lifetime. One in five women have experienced sexual harassment in a workplace. One in three women in Fiji have experienced physical or sexual violence from a man who is not their partner. In 2019 alone, 10 women were killed by their intimate partners”.
 
“In order to end this national scourge, we must first come to a shared understanding among us Fijians as to why violence against women and girls happens in Fiji—its root causes and contributing factors. For starters, we must eradicate the notion that women are in any way weaker or somehow lesser than,” added Prime Minister Bainimarama.
 
The start of the national consultations was marked by the traditional call to talanoa with the symbolic blowing of the davui (conch shell trumpet), a call to bring all sectors and settings of the nation together to generate dialogue, actions and ideas on key actions needed to stop violence against all women and girls.
 
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa said the Government of Fiji recognises its obligation to prevent violence against women and girls.
 
“We all know Fiji is facing an epidemic of violence against women and girls in both public and private spaces. It has one of the highest recorded rates of violence against women and girls. This is unacceptable and requires a bold and ambitious response at the national level. Global evidence now confirms that violence against women and girls is preventable and preventable within years, not lifetimes. I understand that the extent and depth of social change required to end violence against women is daunting. It will not happen overnight. But the time for change is here and now. We are at a crossroads. It is time to further our collective actions. That takes all of us working at the same time, towards the same goal.”
 
The national consultations will be done in two phases and will work in 13 key settings.
 
Phase 1: December 2020 - February 2021  
 
Key settings include education; health and social services; legal, justice and corrections; faith-based; informal sector; and adolescents/youth.
 
Phase2: February – April 2021
 
Key settings include faith-based; traditional institutions and entities; sports and recreation spaces; public spaces, transport and infrastructure; universities, technical and vocational centres; workplaces and corporations; arts; disciplined forces including military and humanitarian personnel; and media, advertising and entertainment.
 
MWCPA is leading the consultation process and the final development of the five-year NAP, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services; Ministry of Youth and Sports; and Ministry of Education, Arts and Heritage.
 
This work is supported by a Secretariat, comprised of MWCPA, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, and UN Women; and the Fiji NAP Technical Working Group (made up of key civil society organisations and government ministries[1]) to provide strategic and technical oversight as the NAP develops.
 
Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Shamima Ali said, “The contribution of CSOs, especially the women’s rights organisations, has been significant in the process so far and we hope it continues. It is good to see the Ministry and the CSO movement working closely because as we have always said ‘violence against women and girls is everyone’s business’ and it will take everyone to prevent it”.
 
UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Programme Specialist Abigail Erikson said, “Fiji is indeed leading the way in prevention efforts for women and girls in the Pacific, and UN Women is proud to be part of this process through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls programme. Primary prevention, that is stopping violence before it starts, is a key focus of the national action plan and critical for sustained social change towards gender equality.”
 
Following the launch, a high-level panel took place on the theme ‘Preventing Violence Against All Women and Girls as a Nation’.
 
Moderated by Minister Vuniwaqa, the panelists included:
 
* Senator Marise Ann Payne; Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women (Australia)
 
*Ifereimi Waqainabete, Minister for Health and Medical Services
 
*Shamima Ali, Coordinator, Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre
 
* Rev. Sereima Lomaloma, House of Sarah
 
UN Women is providing technical and financial support through the Pacific Partnership, funded primarily by the European Union, and the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and UN Women. In addition to UN Women, the MWCPA is receiving further technical support from the Government of Australia.

SOURCE: FIJI GOVT/PACNEWS


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