Addressing the Gender Inequality of Risk and Promoting Community Resilience in Solomon IslandsEstablishment of a Provincial Protection Committee and Gender Based Violence in Emergency Training in Solomon Islands
Author: Breifni Flanagan
Solomon Islands has high vulnerability to natural disasters such as cyclones, high tides, floods and earthquakes, and in 2020 the Pacific Island country experienced the combined impacts of Tropical Cyclone Harold and the COVID-19 crisis. The declaration of a State of Public Emergency due to the Global COVID-19 Pandemic, set the UN Women’s Gender Inequality of Risk (GIR) project in motion, fast tracking the establishment of Provincial Protection Committees (PPC) and its Gender Based Violence in Emergency (GBViE) training to create an inclusive approach to planning and responding to humanitarian crisis. Women leaders representing provinces in Central, Malaita and Rennell and Bellona Province, took part in Gender Based Violence in Emergency (GBViE) Training as part of the establishment of the Provincial Protection Committees (PCC) in the Solomon Islands last year.
Global evidence indicates that women are generally disproportionally affected by disasters and have different and uneven levels of resilience and capacity to recover. Yet, women and girls are often first responders in crises and, when given the opportunity, have capacities to lead in disaster preparation, response, and resilience building. UN Women’s Addressing the Gender Inequality of Risk and Promoting Community Resilience in Solomon Islands (GIR) project works alongside key government agencies and aims to foster leadership of women and vulnerable groups in disaster risk reduction and resilience building in the region.
Supporting the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs as the national lead on protection, the four-day joint mission in each Province consisted of an intensive and practical training workshop which aimed to establish a Provincial Protection Committee (PPC) as well as gain an understanding of how women and girls of the Solomon Islands can be at the heart of localization strategies for disaster response. The localization of protection committees to the provincial level enables Solomon Islands to lead the way on integrating gender equality into humanitarian planning and response at multiple scales, ensuring it is inclusive, effective, and empowering for women and girls.
After the establishment of the committee, the subsequent training was focused on capacity building of participants in areas such as Gender Base Violence in Emergencies (GBViE) as well as helping the participants to identify some of the common risks for women and girls in emergencies.
The PPC aims to support the National Protection Committee as well as its GBViE Sub-Committee in empowering their governance structure at the Provincial level as an alert and preparedness mechanism in readiness for the imminent threat of a positive case of COVID-19 and lockdown and other natural disasters, whilst also ensuring women of the region can have their voices are represented in decision making.
“We should be assessing the (COVID-19) quarantine facilities and our services to ensure that they are safe for women, children and people with disabilities as well as those facing Gender based Violence,” said Jacinta Sale, Chair of the Provincial Protection Committee in the Central Province, affirming the necessity of pre-planning and preparedness for gender sensitive services in the possibility of COVID-19 spreading within the community.
The Provincial Council of Women in Central Province will work together with the Women’s Desk Office and Chair of the Provincial Protection Committee and its members to refine an Annual Work plan on how the PPC can progress the Gender and Protection work in preparedness to COVID-19 and reducing women and girls risks to disasters in Solomon Islands.
UN Women, with funding from the Australian Government, is jointly implementing the Addressing the Gender Inequality of Risk and Promoting Community Resilience in Solomon Islands (GIR) project with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its national society: the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society.