International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Tonga’s launch of the new Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Date: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

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Joint Press Release

Nuku’alofa, Tonga — Tonga is a focus country for the new Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls programme (Pacific Partnership), being launched nationally today.

Violence against women and girls is recognised worldwide as a social and public health violation that has grave physical, emotional, psychological and financial consequences for those impacted, such as in Tonga with data indicating 40 per cent[1] of the nation’s women experience physical or sexual intimate partner violence - more than the global average.

Photo: UN Women

To respond to this challenging issue - and in a first for the Pacific - the European Union, Australian Government, United Nations and two Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) are partnering to coordinate the region’s largest single project to date, to comprehensively prevent violence against women and girls in the Pacific.

The EUR 19.5 million programme (USD 22m or Pa’anga$ 49m) is funded primarily by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 4.9m) and cost-sharing from UN Women (EUR0.6m). The programme has three components, jointly coordinated by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office. Programme work in Tonga falls mostly under the component coordinated by UN Women, with Tonga also included in the Forum Secretariat’s component of work.

Photo: UN Women

“The Government of Tonga is pleased to welcome this programme, and to be an initial partner with the Pacific Partnership so together we can determine the best approaches to prevent violence against women to be progressed in coming year and is in support of this integrated approach, with partnerships between Government with Government Agencies, Government with NGOs, and NGOs with NGOs on national collaborations on the implementation of this partnership, and looks forward to evidence of this integrated approach ” said ‘Onetoto ‘Anisi, A/Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Government of Tonga.

The Pacific Partnership brings together government, 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 will build on the many years of VAWG work by civil society and government to address this issue.

The national launch in Tonga corresponds with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, from 25 November to 10 December, that raises awareness about violence against women and girls being a violation of human rights.

Speaking at the launch in Tonga, Australia’s third Ambassador for Women and Girls, the Hon Dr Sharman Stone, highlighted how the Australian Government is supporting the focus on Tonga and other countries under outcome two of the programme.

Photo: UN Women

“Violence against women is a shared challenge that Australia shares with the Pacific region and we are pleased to be working together to share promising strategies and solutions,” Dr Stone said.

“While the Pacific Partnership is a new programme, it will build on the many years of work in Tonga and across the Pacific region to end violence against women, increasing the resources and effort to address this critical issue.”

The Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner, based in Suva, said: “The European Union is strongly committed to gender equality, the empowerment of women and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls around the world, and including in Tonga”.

Photo: UN Women

“There can be no sustainable development without gender equality, and a key barrier to equality is violence against women and girls. Pacific Leaders have recognised this as a challenge which should be addressed in a comprehensive manner, and this is why we support the Pacific Partnership and its commitment to ending gender-based violence,” Mr. Wagner said.

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 the prevention of violence against women and girls.

This includes transforming commonly held attitudes and beliefs in society to ensure people reject violence against women and girls, particularly through key channels of influence in Tonga such as faith, sports and other avenues.

In addition to Tonga, the five-year programme (2018-2022) targets countries and territories in the Pacific region including, but not limited to, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Central to the programme, is the partners’ recognition of the importance of gender equality for achieving sustainable development, that directly contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly SDG 5 to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’, of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The programme directly supports the implementation of the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED), the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development, and the Pacific Platform for Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights 2018-2030.

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Jacqui Berrell
Communications and Media Specialist,
UN Women MCO Fiji,
Phone: Tonga: +676 776 3368, Fiji: +679 9429 141 | Email: jacqui.berrell@unwomen.org

Australian High Commission, Tonga – Communications:
Ana Kolokihakaufisi
Email: Ana.Kolokihakaufisi@dfat.gov.au
For regional media: Dawn Gibson
Phone: 3388 390

European Union (EU)
Kamni Narayan
Phone: +679 3313 633, ext 115 | Email: Kamni.NARAYAN@eeas.europa.eu,
Mohammed-Nazeem Kasim
Mobile: +679 9920 597 | Email: Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu

BACKGROUND:

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 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 19.5million partnership is funded primarily 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 or AUD 7.6m) with cost-sharing from UN Women (EUR 0.6m or USD 0.75m). 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).

The three key outcomes, or components, are:

  1. A key outcome of the programme aims to enhance Pacific youth’s formal in-school and informal education on gender equality and prevention of violence against women and girls. This outcome is funded by the European Union (EU) and led by SPC RRRT.
  2. A key outcome of the programme aims to promote gender equitable social norms at individual and community levels to prevent violence against women and girls, and to ensure survivors have access to quality response services. This outcome is funded by the European Union (EU) and Australian Government with support from the UN Women Fiji MCO that is also the coordinating agency.
  3. A key outcome of the programme focuses on empowering national and regional civil society organisations (CSOs) to advocate, monitor and report on regional institutions and governments commitments to enhance gender equality and prevent violence against women and girls. This outcome is funded by the EU and implemented by the Forum Secretariat.

The five-year programme (2018-2022) targets countries and territories in the Pacific region including, but not limited to, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Pacific Partnership recognises the importance of gender equality for achieving sustainable development. It directly contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’,. The programme directly supports the implementation of the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development, and the Pacific Platform for Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights 2018-2030.