Delivered by the Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dr Filimon Manoni
At the Pacific Prevention Summit
24 April 2023, Sigatoka, Fiji.
Excellencies and Senior Officials from Pacific countries, Members of the Diplomatic corps, Dr Paula Vivili, Deputy Director General SPC, Ms Delphine Serumaga, of the UN Women Multi-country office in Fiji , and our important civil society partners from across our Blue Pacific region, Iakwe and Bula Vinaka. It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you all to highlight what needs to be done to prevent gender-based violence.
Addressing and preventing violence in all its forms against any individual – men, women, girls, boys, and communities is critical for development. Violence impedes all forms of development. It instills fear within communities, homes, schools, workplaces and in families, and particularly so for the most marginalized and vulnerable – our women in all their diversity, children, and persons with disabilities.
Addressing and preventing violence requires a whole of government and community approach. It needs all of us to work together to stop violence from happening. This requires changing behaviour and social norms; working with women, religious and traditional leaders, and finding new ways to address the increasing rates of violence in our communities. This is particularly important as we navigate through the challenges brought on by advances in technology which can perpetuate, incite and amplify violence.
There is no place for violence in our region. It is important to recognize that to address and prevent violence we need to address the root causes. Key to this is ensuring and promoting gender equality. This is why gender equality, equity and social inclusion is a key priority under the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific, if we are to achieve the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders vision for 2050 for a resilient Pacific region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity that ensures all Pacific peoples can lead free, healthy and productive lives.
The Summit is important because it brings together government, civil, society, academia and practitioners for a tok stori at a time where it is critical to focus on preventing violence as we navigate through other regional priorities such as climate change and resilience, securing our maritime boundaries, improving education and health outcomes, capitalizing on our trade capabilities and strategizing on regional economic development.
The Secretariat has completed consultations for the next iteration of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, and we look forward to the outcomes from this Summit as it will guide our thinking as we shape a revitalised Declaration that takes into account current context and will ensure that gender equality, equity and social priorities of the region are being reflected in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and other key work being progressed in the region including the Pacific Roadmap on Economic Development.
Acknowledging the wealth of expertise and knowledge that is in this room, I encourage you this week to be provocative, innovative and to think of new or strengthening current approaches to addressing and preventing gender-based violence including how we better engage men and boys in addressing gender inequality including preventing violence.
It is not time for business as usual anymore. We cannot continue to be complacent. We need to accelerate actions to prevent violence from happening in the first place. The time is right now for us as a region and as a community to elevate our Pacific grown solutions to address this issue of gender-based violence if we are to achieve Pacific Islands Forum Leaders vision for our Blue Pacific Continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you well in your deliberations and I look forward to hearing of the outcomes of the conference.
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