Monday, 26 November 2018
Good evening! On behalf of the Secretary General, who could not be with us this evening, I am very pleased to be here with you all to launch this crucial partnership aimed at improving the wellbeing of all peoples of the Pacific. As envisioned through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, partnerships and inclusivity are now fundamental to the effective practice of regionalism in our region.
Successful partnerships are built by individuals who respect one another and who see each other as equals. Partnerships involve an understanding of different perspectives and a common vision of what is possible. And in the end, partnerships need people who commit to helping each other achieve that vision.
For almost fifty years, the Forum has been successful in bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders who share a common purpose – creating a region in which Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.
Today we can point to achievements like – a nuclear free South Pacific, significantly higher returns from our fisheries, or enhanced programmes to prevent cervical cancer – and we can say we did it collectively and through committed partnerships.
The former President of the Federated States of Micronesia, His Excellency Bailey Olter, once said, “our Pacific Ocean does not separate us, it brings us together.” This spirit of connectedness is at the heart of the Blue Pacific narrative which Forum Leaders endorsed as core driver of collective action for advancing the Leaders vision under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.
The Blue Pacific recognizes that our shared oceanic geography, resources, heritage, and cultures, compel us to work together, for the wellbeing of us all. Securing the wellbeing and potential of our Blue Pacific and all those who inhabit it requires that we engage more inclusively within our region, and more constructively with those outside it. In this regard, the Forum values open and genuine relationships, and inclusive and enduring partnerships within our region and beyond in order to promote our security, prosperity and harmony.
These values of connectedness and partnership equally apply to the issue of eliminating violence against women.
Partnerships to prevent violence against women in the Pacific
Today, we are here to launch a most important partnership, one that brings together countries and governments of the Pacific, donors and development partners, with the aim of eliminative violence against women.
In the Pacific region 2 out of 3 women are subject to intimate partner violence – with women and girls with disabilities most at risk of violence. 66% of women are living in unequal partnerships with men.
Working together to end violence is not new to our region. For example, during the ethnic crisis in Solomon Islands we saw strong partnerships emerge at community, national and regional levels. Women worked closely in communities to rebuild fractured relationships; the Melanesia Brotherhood an Anglican religious community sheltered women and children; and Pacific neighbors worked in partnership through RAMSI to restore law and order, peace and security.
There are many other examples of effective partnerships for eliminating violence against women in the Pacific. The Fiji Women’s Crisis Center and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women have for decades conducted crucial work of building equal partnerships with men, women, crisis centers advocates, government, police, judiciary, civil society, and faith-based groups.
The diverse Inter-Faith organizations have also come together to raise awareness and call for zero tolerance to violence against women in the Pacific.
Pacific Disability Forum continuously remind us that we need to bring women and girls with disabilities as equal partners to the work on ending violence.
Across the Blue Pacific we can see how partnerships on ending violence against women have grown and are sustained amongst the smallest, most under-resourced community, women’s and faith -based groups. Successful change happens in communities where relationships are preserved between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, village elders and women’s groups, church leaders and police and politicians and most at risk groups. We can learn much from the efforts of our people to deal with violence against women.
Value -Add of Pacific Partnerships to the Region
The Pacific Partnerships to end violence against brings 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.
The Pacific Partnership is important for us in the region and is a significant commitment by the European Union, under EDF 11 through the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme.
The Pacific Partnership will complement the existing commitment by the Government of Australia through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development to step up the implementation of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration.
The Pacific Islands Forum is thankful to EU, DFAT and UN Women for a targeted investment and to our CROP colleagues implementing the key components of this programme.
We look forward to the successful implementation of this partnership and working closely with all partners present here in driving the collective action to ensure equal partnerships for our people.