An equal playing field for women and men a priority for Oceania Sevens

Date: Monday, October 29, 2018

Joint press release

Suva, Fiji — A record number of women in the workforce and local women assistant referees are part of this year’s Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship reflecting a global movement to achieve more equal participation of women and men in rugby.

L - R Ms Abigail Erikson Ending Violence Against Women Programme Specialist for UN Women Fiji MOC and Ms Cathy Wong Oceania Rugby Women’s Director. Photo: UN Women
L - R Ms Abigail Erikson Ending Violence Against Women Programme Specialist for UN Women Fiji MOC and Ms Cathy Wong Oceania Rugby Women’s Director. Photo: UN Women

The number of women working in the tournament team has almost doubled in just a year, up from about 40 last year to 80 in 2018. In a first for the regional tournament, there will also be locally appointed women assistant referees – with two of the eight appointed from the Pacific being women.

Using rugby to promote gender equality and, longer term, to prevent violence against women is central to an agreement between Oceania Rugby and UN Women Fiji MCO, which is supported by the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (PacPartnership) funded by the European Union and Australian Government with support from UN Women.

“Oceania Rugby and World Rugby is committed to investing in having more women and girls involved in Pacific rugby, from players to decision makers at global level, and we’re pleased to be partnering with UN Women to achieve this,” said Ms Cathy Wong, Oceania Rugby Women’s Director and member of the World Rugby Council.

“This year’s Oceania Sevens has a record number of women’s match officials, and also equal-record number of women’s teams,” Ms Wong said.

“We are also excited to mention that on the match officials’ list is Australian referee Amy Perrett who was the first woman ever appointed to referee men's teams in the Australia's National Rugby Championship and also the first female assistant referee in Super Rugby,” Ms Wong added.

“Children and families are also being encouraged to come enjoy rugby, too, with family-friendly ticket prices to watch the full competition,” she said.

This year there are again eight women teams competing, and 13 men’s teams, at the 2018 Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship (Oceania 7s), being held at the ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji, from 9-10 November. Two women’s teams competing for the first time at the Oceania 7s are New Caledonia and also Nauru - this is an historic moment for Nauru being its first National Women’s Sevens Team.

Abigail Erikson, Ending Violence Against Women Programme Specialist for UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), that works across 14 Pacific Island countries, said the Oceania Sevens is a great example of the commitment by Oceania Rugby to change and to encourage more equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of the sport’s administration and competitions.

“UN Women, as the global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, is proud to work together with Oceania Rugby toward an equal playing field,” said Ms Erikson said.

“By supporting more women and girls to play rugby and other sports at an equal level with men, we can encourage social change by demonstrating there is no limit to what women and girls can do.”

This is the second time UN Women is joining Oceania Rugby as its gender equality partner at Oceania 7s, with joint activities to include a ‘Women in Rugby and the Media Forum’; special presentations to the women’s teams; a new video promoting equal participation in rugby; a social media campaign to promote an #EqualPlayingField, and general event support.

This advocacy approach for Oceania 7s is one of several initiatives by Oceania Rugby and UN Women Fiji MCO through the EUR19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls programme funded by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) and Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) with support from UN Women (EUR 0.6m).

The programme brings together 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 programme's three outcome areas are jointly implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MOC).

Media Contacts:

Sarah Walker
Oceania Rugby
Ph: +61 418 678 548 | Email: sarah.walker@oceaniarugby.com

Jacqui Berrell
Communications and Media Specialist, UN Women MCO Fiji
Ph: +679 330 1178 ext 125 | Email: jacqui.berrell@unwomen.org

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls: The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women recorded in the world – twice the global average with an estimated two in every three Pacific women impacted by gender-based violence. Along with high rates of violence – a violation of human rights – women and girls in the Pacific region experience constant and continual inequalities including low levels of participation in decision making, limited economic opportunities, restricted access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) brings together 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. To achieve this, the Pacific Partnership aims to transform the social norms that allow violence against women and girls to continue; to ensure survivors have access to quality response services; and to support national and regional institutions to meet their commitments to gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls. Working through partners, it will promote equal rights and opportunities for all Pacific people, through innovative approaches to education, access to essential services, and policy development.

The EUR 19.5 million partnership is primarily funded by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) that supports all three outcome areas of the programme, with the Australian Government providing targeted funding to the second outcome (EUR 6.2m) supported by UN Women (EUR 0.6m). The programme’s three outcome areas are jointly implemented through a partnership between the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO).

Oceania Rugby: Oceania Rugby is one of six regional associations of World Rugby, responsible for representing the interests of its Members, which includes 15 Member Unions and 1 Associate Member Union. Oceania Rugby works closely with Member Unions on the development and reach of Rugby in the region to promote the growth of Rugby throughout Oceania. Central to this is a series of tournaments and development programs run and coordinated by Oceania Rugby.

UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji: A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) based in Fiji, covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works to progress gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific through four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women and Girls; Women’s Political Empowerment, Leadership and Human Rights; and Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action.

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