Dialogue to address violence against women and girls with disabilities

Date: Monday, August 7, 2017

Pacific — “Women and girls with disabilities do not report cases of violence, abuse and exploitations due to barriers and challenges they face as a woman and as a person with a disability”, said Mr Setareki Macanawai, the CEO for Pacific Disability Forum (PDF). Mr Macanawai made this comment at the first ever regional dialogue on Ending Violence against women and girls with disabilities (EVAW) in the Pacific.

Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Disability Forum (PDF)

PDF in partnership with the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) and funding from the Australian Government hosted the event from 7 to 9 August 2017 at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi, Fiji.

Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Disability Forum (PDF)

In opening the Dialogue, the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, HE Ms Margaret Twomey, reiterated the Australian Government’s commitment to disability inclusion and gender equality. She said the Dialogue was an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to discuss ways to ensure support services for victims of gender-based violence are responsive to the needs of women and girls with disabilities.

“Australia wants to develop a richer understanding of how disability is experienced, and the barriers people with a disability face in their everyday lives. Regional dialogues, such as this one, are ideal forums to continue these conversations”, Ms Twomey.

“The dialogue is focussed on creating awareness among stakeholders of the challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities in accessing EVAW services and increasing their knowledge on the intersectionality of violence against women and girls, and disability inclusion”, Mr. Macanawai said.

Photo: Courtesy of Pacific Disability Forum (PDF)

UN Women Fiji MCO Deputy Representative Mr Nicolas Burniat said, “The violence experienced by women and girls with disabilities is still largely an invisible issue. We know that around 64 per cent of women in Fiji experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – and more in other Pacific Island countries. But we also know that the rates for women and girls with disabilities are much higher. Not only do they have unique vulnerabilities, but, as survivors, they also face physical, social and economic barriers when it comes to accessing services and the justice system.”

The Dialogue brings together representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPO), EVAW service providers and government from 8 Pacific island countries (PICs) to discuss approaches and strategies to guarantee access to EVAW services by women and girls with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

PDF is also engaging with key regional stakeholders such as the Australian Government, Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPCRRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Fiji Women Crisis Centre and Uniting World at the dialogue. These key regional stakeholders are participating to enable them to identify the gaps in addressing the elimination of violence against women and girls with disabilities in their own work and strategize on how they can work with their national stakeholders to close these gaps.

For further enquiries

Please email: Simione Bula
Email: infor@pacificdisability.org
Phone: +679 8912653