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Myanmar’s population is facing a double crisis from the COVID-19 and the military takeover of February 2021, which is steadily wearing out their social and economic resilience.
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Rural women vendors and farmers trading at Nausori Municipal Market will have a safe place to sleep at the new Nausori Market Women’s Accommodation Centre which was officially opened today by His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Fiji’s Minister for Commerce, Trade and Tourism, and Transport, and acting Minister for Local Government, Honorable Faiyaz Koya.
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On International Women’s Day this year, the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), through the Pacific Partnership, and Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) announce an exciting new partnership, affirming their joint commitment to gender equality through a multiyear partnership, focusing on making football safer and more accessible for women and girls, while promoting gender equality, supporting women’s empowerment, and preventing violence in the Pacific.
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Permanent Secretary of the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Jennifer Poole (second from left) with Ministry staff, receives ICT resources from UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Representative, Sandra Bernklau (third from left). Photo: UN Women/Gregory Ravoi Suva, Fiji – The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation (MWCPA) has welcomed much-needed resources for information management, communications, and technology (ICT) from the UN Women Fiji...
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Ko Aung Lin, a 36-year-old famer and a member of the Mro ethnic group, lives in Ah Htet Myat Lay village, Ponnagyun Township, in Sittwe of Rakhine state in Myanmar’s far west. He is the only man among the 10 volunteers chosen in Rakhine for a joint project by UN Women and United Nations Population Fund to prevent violence against women and girls and help survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions delayed the start of the project.
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Rakhine State, Myanmar – Daw Aye Mu had always wanted to learn how to expand her small business making snacks in western Myanmar. In July 2021, she was selected to attend the UN Women and World Vision Start to Improve Your Business (SIYB) training, along with a cash grant from partner organization Meikswe Myanmar. She explains how the opportunity was a stroke of personal good fortune amid difficult times for her country.
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(L-R) Mr Paul Wilson , Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Fiji; Ms Shamima Ali , Coordinator, Fiji Women’s Crisis Center; and Ms Sandra Bernklau , Representative for UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, launch the Gender-Based Violence Counsellor Training Package for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji. Photo: Fiji Women’s Crisis Center/ Nasik Swami Suva, Fiji – 29 November marked the culmination of progressing decades of work towards standardising approaches to...
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Our interviewee is a member of Sarah Carer, social workers trained by House of Sarah to help survivors of violence access information and essential services. She asked to remain anonymous.“For long, domestic violence was a norm in our community. Men would say it's a way of disciplining women. ‘Mind your own business. It's their problem,’ people would say if anyone tried to help. …
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Reverend Jone Tuiwaiwai, 60, is a House of Sarah project officer and a pastor of St. Luke Anglican Church in Suva, Fiji. Since 2018, the faith-based non-governmental organization House of Sarah has been piloting the project, Preventing Violence Against Women in Fiji’s Faith Settings initiative in three Christian communities in Fiji. House of Sarah is co-funded by the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership), which is funded primarily by the European Union, the Governments of Australia and of New Zealand, UN Women, and the Fiji Women’s Fund (also supported by the Australian Government).
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Sani Daoni, 40, a member of Wailoku community in Suva, Fiji, has attended dialogue sessions given by the House of Sarah project. "I’m a man. I loved my power. I wanted things my way. I never shared responsibility with my wife. If things were not followed, I’d beat her up. I was harsh on the kids. I was always shouting at them. That’s how I disciplined my family,""
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Naw Moh Moh Than, 18, aspires to become a teacher but she has had her journey disrupted several times. When she was in secondary school, armed conflict in Kayin State forced her and her family to flee to a displaced persons camp. With the help of one her teachers, she resumed her schooling in the nearest town but then the COVID-19 pandemic forced all the schools to close since the start of 2020. Still, Naw Moh Moh Than remained determined. She joined a sewing training that UN Women organized in the camp and made cloth masks that humanitarian groups bought and distributed to women across Kayin State, which is mostly populated by the Karen ethnic minority.
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I knock on people’s doors. If they want me to come in, I go in. We introduce ourselves, and we pray. If they don’t want me to go in, I invite them to meet me in churches or community halls. It can be hard to get men to come. It can be hard to have men and women together because men blame women for causing violence. We community activists, use the [adapted Raising Voices’ SASA! Faith] tool to have discussions.
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One afternoon, my wife sent me a picture from the training. In the picture, men were using all sorts of violence. I saw myself in those men. For the rest of the afternoon, I kept on thinking about the times I used violence on my wife and kids. Weeks later, Reverend Jone [Tuiwaiwai] and a few others came to my house, encouraging me to become a community activist. I went to the training and learned about biblical texts. There were verses about how God created men and women equal, giving them authority to look after each other.
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“We had already conducted training in the community to prevent violence,” explains Reverend Sereima Lomaloma, Founder and Trustee of the House of Sarah, and senior faith leader. “But violence continued because women were the only ones taking up the learning, not the rest of the family. The whole family needed to change. The whole community needed to change. But it wasn’t happening,” she explained. So, when the opportunity arose for House of Sarah to partner with UN Women to carry out the internationally recognised SASA! Faith approach to preventing violence against women, developed by Uganda-based organisation Raising Voices, Reverend Lomaloma welcomed the chance.
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Oripa Lee from Fiji is a teacher and coach part of the Get into Rugby PLUS programme which aims to promote gender equitable norms, attitudes and behaviours, and prevent violence against women and girls and by doing so, strengthen inclusion in the sport. She is of the many school coaches’ part of Oceania Rugby and UN Women’s partnership initiative, that is helping to ‘balance the scales’ on and off the rugby field. Caption: Oripa Lee, teacher and coach, part of the...
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Since February 1, women and girls have been at the frontlines as leaders of civil society organizations, civil servants, activists, journalists, artists and influencers exercising their fundamental rights to express their hopes for the future of their country. Even before the coup, women, who make up 75 per cent of Myanmar’s healthcare professionals, were at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. Now, during a tragic surge in COVID-19 cases, many women continue in their activism and serve their communities while also assuming significant responsibilities as caregivers for sick family members, and for their children’s home-based learning.
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Suva, Fiji  - Pacific communities continue to benefit from the work of four women’s organisations in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on women.  The four organisations, Vanuatu Business Resilience Committee (VBRC), Medical Services Pacific (MSP) in Fiji, Palau Red Cross (PRC) and Malaita Provincial Council of Women (MPCW) from Solomon Islands are supported by the Women’s Peace...
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Upon her return to Myanmar in 2019, she invested her savings of MMK 200,000 (USD 122) in her online business. “Doing business was not really in my plan while I was in Thailand,” she said. “But I knew that I am good at using phones and social media. I knew the area and some people. When I returned to Myanmar, I felt certain I could start my online shop. I am still young and can get around easily to take orders to customers, especially with my motorbike,” she said.
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After 11 years away, Aye returned to Myanmar in 2014 pregnant and with around 10 million MMK (USD 6,075) in savings. She spent most of that on a house and used 1,500,000 MMK to start her sewing business in 2015. She felt that she was at her best when sewing, and also felt confident that she had learned to be punctual, systematic and disciplined. Ni Ni Aye says she dreamed of starting a clothing business back in Thailand ever since she started working in Thailand. “I remitted half of my salary to my parents and I saved the other half for my dream business.”
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We call upon Myanmar’s military and police to ensure that the right to peaceful assembly is fully respected and that demonstrators, including women, are not subjected to reprisals. We further call on the military and police to respect the human rights of women who have been arrested and are currently being detained and reiterate the calls for the immediate release of all detainees.