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Kiribati’s Commitment: A Journey Towards Human Rights Progress

The journey towards human rights advancement is not always an easy one. It’s a challenge shared and well understood among island nations in our Blue Pacific continent. Kiribati’s story and progress, to this effect, is a testament to the power of collective will and the determination to transform challenges into opportunities for positive change - change that is already securing a better tomorrow for its future generations.

OUTCOMES & ACTIONS DOCUMENT

Regional Writeshop for Submissions by Pacific Island Countries and Territories for the International Court of Justice Climate Change Advisory Opinion Proceeding

Series of Thematic Briefs by the Pacific Women Lead at SPC programme

The series of Thematic Briefs provide a broad summary of information, analysis and key messages relating to topics which affect women and girls in the Pacific Islands.

These summaries include references to associated research and information.  The series of Thematic Briefs have been released by the Pacific Women Lead (PWL) at the Pacific Community (SPC) programme. The briefs have been updated to include COVID-19 considerations and recent programme information and are based on the original briefs developed by the former programme, Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women). 

More Thematic Briefs are coming soon.

The series of Thematic Briefs cover the following topics, with more being released soon:

·         Ending Violence against Women in the Pacific

·         Women's Economic Empowerment in the Pacific

·         Inclusion of Pacific women with disabilities

·         Myths about gender equality in the Pacific

Additional briefs will be released later in 2023.

Thematic Briefs:

·         Ending Violence against Women in the Pacific

Women in the Pacific face some of the highest level of violence in the world. An estimated 60 per cent women and girls have experienced violence by an intimate partner or family.  

Link: https://pacificdata.org/data/dataset/pwl-thematic-brief-ending-violence-against-women-in-the-pacific

·         Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Pacific

Women’s empowerment and economic participation are central to sustainable development and sustained poverty reduction.  

Link: https://pacificdata.org/data/dataset/pwl-thematic-brief-women-s-economic-empowerment-in-the-pacific

·         Myths about gender equality in the Pacific

“Gender equality is a western concept and has no place within Pacific culture” is one of the seven common myths highlighted in the Thematic Brief on Myths about gender equality in the Pacific.

Link: https://pacificdata.org/data/dataset/pwl-thematic-brief-myths-about-gender-equality-in-the-pacific

·         Inclusion of Pacific Women with disabilities

Women and girls with disabilities experience multiple forms of discrimination (intersection of gender and disability) that are exacerbated during times of crisis or hardship, such as natural disaster or the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Link: https://pacificdata.org/data/dataset/pwl-thematic-brief-inclusion-of-pacific-women-with-disabilities

 

About Pacific Women Lead 

One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts.

The Pacific Women Lead (PWL) at SPC programme, termed PWL at SPC, has more than AUD 55 million dedicated to its work under the Australian Government’s AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead portfolio. This partnership with the Australian Government commits SPC to deliver the PWL programme, as the cornerstone for the portfolio. Read More.  

2023 Pacific Regional Forum on National Human Rights Institutions

2023 Pacific Regional Forum on National Human Rights Institutions

Counselling an essential service for women and girls in the North Pacific

English

“With the support I provide to the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC) team, they are able to facilitate awareness sessions and start to change mindsets - there’s a need for respectful relationships where women have equal access to resources and opportunities,” said Wilma Eileen, Gender-based Violence (GBV) Adviser for the Pacific Women Lead at SPC programme.

Advocacy and awareness sessions by the Chuuk Women’s Council’s (CWC) Tongen Inepwineu Counseling Center (TICC) has resulted in changed mindsets, with men now referring women relatives to the centre.

There are the only two crisis centres in the North Pacific that provide counselling services for survivors of violence against women: TICC in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) Weto In Mour Counselling Centres in Majuro and Ebeye, Republic of the Marshall Islands.

In her role Wilma provides technical support to these crisis centres in the North Pacific. This includes support to the referral system in Chuuk, known as APIMAR Safenet, which includes of a range of ending violence against women (EVAW) stakeholders, from government ministries to the police and CWC.

“This referral system is working really well in Chuuk,” she explained, adding that through the referral system “stakeholders such as the police and the Attorney General’s office have called on TICC to provide counselling service to clients.”  

“Women have accessed the TICC services since 2020 till now. They continue to receive cases for domestic violence and women who are survivors of domestic violence as well as child sexual abuse cases. Over the past two years, around 100 clients have visited TICC,” she added.

Wilma stated that in her line of work as a technical adviser, it is important to continuously find ways of collaboration with partners in-country because they are the experts on the ground.

Wilma’s ongoing technical support to North Pacific crisis centres includes training on gender and basic counselling skills as well as counselling supervision. Her support also includes skills training on telephone counselling for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), which has extended to partners in other parts of the region last year including Papua New Guinea. 

“We continue to provide technical support as requested with regard to counselling, but we also support them in terms of their work creating awareness on the issues of domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of children,” she said.

In the recent past, COVID-19 has shifted counselling modalities towards telephone counselling due to restrictions in movement.

“During the height of COVID-19, the development of the ‘‘Telephone Counselling for GBV Survivors: a Pacific Toolkit’was done by technical advisers and with the counsellors in TICC and WUTMI,” she said. These technical advisers were supported through Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development and the resource as well as the work to socialise it has now transitioned to the new Pacific Women Lead at SPC programme.

The Pacifiic toolkit was refined through pilot training sessions with the WUTMI, Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC), Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNCWC), the Tonga Women and Children Crisis Centre (TWCCC), the Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) and the Family Support Centre in the Solomon Islands (FSC). 

Central to the toolkit’s development, was GBV counsellors’ sharing of lessons learned and reflections on practice.   

The eight-module course provides extensive practical exercises and real-life scenarios, to assist learners to develop the practical, ethical and ‘do no harm’ skills needed for the professional delivery of GBV telephone counselling. 

While COVID-19 community transmissions only happened this past year in Chuuk, FSM, and RMI after their international borders re-opened, remote training for counsellors in 2020 and 2021 on GBV telephone counselling gave them the opportunity to prepare.

“It was good practice to have these counsellors co-develop a toolkit, undergo the training and also have the supervision support that prepared them for the response to community transmissions,” she said. 

According to Wilma, their active participation in the co-design of the toolkit embeds skills that are not only useful during times of limited movement but provides the skills to connect with clients who seek their services via phone outside of Weno as well as Chuuk State.

About Pacific Women Lead 

One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts.

The Pacific Women Lead (PWL) programme at the Pacific Community (SPC), termed PWL at SPC, has more than AUD 55 million dedicated to its work under the Australian Government’s AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead portfolio. This partnership with the Australian Government commits SPC to deliver the PWL programme, as the cornerstone for the portfolio.

Gender and Human Rights statistics essential for Gender Equality

English

“Gender and human rights statistics: no measure has ever been so important towards envisioning a society that is equal and safe for all of its members,” said Akhona Nkenkana, SPC’s Statistics Adviser for Gender and Human Rights.

Quality data and statistics for gender and human rights including registered births and deaths, can guide the implementation of policies, services and laws contributing to change such as ending child marriage.

“A great example of how data can contribute to improving the lives of Pacific people, is the case of girls and young women who are now protected by law to marry later in life. That means girls can, for example, remain at school to complete their education rather than marrying young,” Akhona said.

She explained how data gathered on women married before 18, referred to as child marriage, can be used by government, civil society and others to make positive changes to legislation. In Tuvalu, data was a central component of the process behind Tuvalu’s Marriage Amendment Act No. 10 of 2015. It proposed to increase the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18 years, and came into effect in January 2016.

This change reflects recommendations by various treaty bodies and responds to the Tuvalu Demographic and Health Survey that found nearly one in 10 girls (9.9% in 2007) were married before the age of 18,. Following adoption of the new laws and other initiatives, the latest statistics found the rate reduced to one in 50 (2% in 2019), as detailed in the Tuvalu Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey. All data is available on the Pacific Data Hub(link is external).

Gender and human rights data complements Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), which registers critical life events such as births and deaths that provide crucial information for a country to develop relevant public policies. Advancements for CRVS, including the development of specific national CRVS, have emphasised that an efficient, accurate and cost-effective registration system contributes to the achievement of basic human rights through improved planning for access to education, health, law and justice, and other public services where proof of identity is required.

With a focus on these two issues, Akhona Nkenkana, works with partners regionally and globally to fill the gap for quality, reliable statistics and data in the Pacific region – a gap shared with many other regions in the world.

“At a policy level you are going to have impact as a result of the availability of data. At an individual level data plays a level of empowerment – people have a great knowledge about topics when quality data is available,” Akhona said.

Central to her work is to support implementation of the Pacific Roadmap on Gender Statistics. Its objectives are to work with national, regional, and international organisations in the Pacific to improve data availability on gender statistics – ensuring data is available and has a high level of quality and reliability.

This work also contributes towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress reporting for SPC member states and the development of key indicators for the Pacific’s progress against SDG 5 on gender equality.

“The work on gender, human rights and CRVS to ensure the availability of robust data is essential in the implementation of gender equality and human rights standards and commitments, to support policy formulation, impact assessment and transparency,” Akhona explained.

Counselling an essential service for women and girls in the North Pacific

English

“With the support I provide to the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC) team, they are able to facilitate awareness sessions and start to change mindsets - there’s a need for respectful relationships where women have equal access to resources and opportunities,” said Wilma Eileen, Gender-based Violence (GBV) Adviser for the Pacific Women Lead at SPC programme.  

Advocacy and awareness sessions by the Chuuk Women’s Council’s (CWC) Tongen Inepwineu Counseling Center (TICC) has resulted in changed mindsets, with men now referring women relatives to the centre. 

There are the only two crisis centres in the North Pacific that provide counselling services for survivors of violence against women: TICC in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) Weto In Mour Counselling Centres in Majuro and Ebeye, Republic of the Marshall Islands. 

In her role Wilma provides technical support to these crisis centres in the North Pacific. This includes support to the referral system in Chuuk, known as APIMAR Safenet, which includes of a range of ending violence against women (EVAW) stakeholders, from government ministries to the police and CWC. 

“This referral system is working really well in Chuuk,” she explained, adding that through the referral system “stakeholders such as the police and the Attorney General’s office have called on TICC to provide counselling service to clients.”   

“Women have accessed the TICC services since 2020 till now. They continue to receive cases for domestic violence and women who are survivors of domestic violence as well as child sexual abuse cases. Over the past two years, around 100 clients have visited TICC,” she added. 

Wilma stated that in her line of work as a technical adviser, it is important to continuously find ways of collaboration with partners in-country because they are the experts on the ground. 

Wilma’s ongoing technical support to North Pacific crisis centres includes training on gender and basic counselling skills as well as counselling supervision. Her support also includes skills training on telephone counselling for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), which has extended to partners in other parts of the region last year including Papua New Guinea.  

“We continue to provide technical support as requested with regard to counselling, but we also support them in terms of their work creating awareness on the issues of domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of children,” she said. 

In the recent past, COVID-19 has shifted counselling modalities towards telephone counselling due to restrictions in movement. 

“During the height of COVID-19, the development of the ‘‘Telephone Counselling for GBV Survivors: a Pacific Toolkit’was done by technical advisers and with the counsellors in TICC and WUTMI,” she said. These technical advisers were supported through Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development and the resource as well as the work to socialise it has now transitioned to the new Pacific Women Lead at SPC programme. 

The Pacifiic toolkit was refined through pilot training sessions with the WUTMI, Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC), Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNCWC), the Tonga Women and Children Crisis Centre (TWCCC), the Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) and the Family Support Centre in the Solomon Islands (FSC).   

Central to the toolkit’s development, was GBV counsellors’ sharing of lessons learned and reflections on practice.     

The eight-module course provides extensive practical exercises and real-life scenarios, to assist learners to develop the practical, ethical and ‘do no harm’ skills needed for the professional delivery of GBV telephone counselling.   

While COVID-19 community transmissions only happened this past year in Chuuk, FSM, and RMI after their international borders re-opened, remote training for counsellors in 2020 and 2021 on GBV telephone counselling gave them the opportunity to prepare.  

“It was good practice to have these counsellors co-develop a toolkit, undergo the training and also have the supervision support that prepared them for the response to community transmissions,” she said.  

According to Wilma, their active participation in the co-design of the toolkit embeds skills that are not only useful during times of limited movement but provides the skills to connect with clients who seek their services via phone outside of Weno as well as Chuuk State. 

About Pacific Women Lead  

One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts. 

The Pacific Women Lead (PWL) programme at the Pacific Community (SPC), termed PWL at SPC, has more than AUD 55 million dedicated to its work under the Australian Government’s AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead portfolio. This partnership with the Australian Government commits SPC to deliver the PWL programme, as the cornerstone for the portfolio. 

Gender-based Violence research a lifeline for women

English

“Gender-based violence research contributes to change in a number of ways,” said Kim Robertson, an Adviser with the Pacific Community (SPC) Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division. 

Research can prove the extent of the harmful impacts caused by gender-based violence (GBV) in the Pacific, and also be used to advocate for change in legislation and improved support services.  

“For many women, the research is the first time they have shared or disclosed their experience of violence, a major change to break the silence,” she explained.   

Kim specialises in gender data, statistics and research. She explained doing this specialised research is very complex, and any undertaking will involve the ‘do no harm’ approach to both participants of the research and researchers.  

"Collecting GBV data is hard for researchers and every care is taken so that they are not traumatised by the information and stories shared with them."

Having research that is robust and relevant enables governments, civil society and all organisations working to end violence against women and girls.

For example, many Pacific civil society organisations (CSOs) rely on gender research as the evidence-base to prove GBV is a significant issue and to advocate for improved legal protection, support services and resources for survivors while also implementing programmes to eliminate violence against women and girls. 

Making such an evidence based accessible is also an important part of the change process. Kim has represented SPC in the Reference Group for Toksave Pacific Gender Resource, a unique regional portal for gender research and resources.   

“If you want to find out about gender-based violence in the Pacific, Toksave has over 230 resources related to GBV. This ranges includes tools and guides, briefs, blogs, reports, journal articles, prevalence studies and more about a range of topics including access to services, justice, assessments of specific areas such as Family Protection Orders, GBV and economic empowerment.” 

About Pacific Women Lead 

One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts.

The Pacific Women Lead (PWL) programme at the Pacific Community (SPC), termed PWL at SPC, has more than AUD 55 million dedicated to its work under the Australian Government’s AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead portfolio. This partnership with the Australian Government commits SPC to deliver the PWL programme, as the cornerstone for the portfolio.

Data and statistics to assist women survivors and lawmakers address gender-based violence

English

“The gender-based violence administrative database for Chuuk Women’s Council will enable their staff to collect data to influence policy reforms or develop strategies to address violence against women and girls.”

Arti Devi, Database Officer for Pacific Women Lead at SPC programme, explains how crisis centres adopting administrative databases to track volumes of women being counselled as well as identify trends to assist support services, survivors, lawmakers and others address violence against women and girls.

In her role, Arti oversees the data management support to the programme and its partners including the only crisis service in Federated States of Micronesia, Tongen Inepwineu Counseling Center (TICC) run by the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC) in Chuuk State. She is also currently designing a database for Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) and its Weto in Mour counselling service.

The Gender-based Violence (GBV) administrative database is designed as a data management tool for crisis centres moving from basic, paper-based documentation of client information to a consolidated, data-focused electronic approach.

“This database has been set up to complement their services and also provide very clear indicators for them to be able to track, if there’s a repeat counselling session, how often does this particular client come in, and other details,” Arti said.

This database approach is known to assist crisis centres better track their cases, identify trends, and capture overall volumes of violence against women and girls (VAWG) compared to the documentation of client information on paper.

When used in community awareness, VAWG data has proven in several cases, to make women in Chuuk realise the large scale of the problem and to subsequently decide to report domestic violence.

“It can also assist organisations like Pacific Women Lead design future programmes based on evidence,” she said.

About Pacific Women Lead 

One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts.

The Pacific Women Lead (PWL) programme at the Pacific Community (SPC), termed PWL at SPC, has more than AUD 55 million dedicated to its work under the Australian Government’s AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead portfolio. This partnership with the Australian Government commits SPC to deliver the PWL programme, as the cornerstone for the portfolio.

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