Fiji first in the Pacific to launch National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against All Women and Girls
Fiji created history in June this year when it became the first Pacific Island Country and second of its kind in the world alongside Australia, to develop and launch a whole-of-government, whole-of-population, inclusive, costed, and evidence-based national action plan that explicitly focuses on the prevention of violence against all women and girls.
The National Action to Prevent Violence Against All Women and Girls 2023-2028 – or Fiji NAP – already has a commitment of a $1 million Fijian Dollars for FY 2023 – 2024 from the Government of Fiji to stop violence before it starts, as well as $6 million Fijian Dollars from the Government of Australia.
Australia’s Ambassador for Gender Equality, Ms Stephanie Copus Campbell; and Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator, Ms Shamima Ali, were also chief guests at the launch alongside the Acting Prime Minister.
In this opening address, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Honourable Biman Chand Prasad said, “I am delighted to share that for the upcoming fiscal year, the government has introduced a new budget line specifically dedicated to the implementation of the NAP across key ministries. These ministries include the Ministry of Education, Heritage, and Arts; Ministry of iTaukei Affairs; Ministry of Youth and Sports; Ministry of Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation; and the Ministry of Health. This reflects our whole-of-government approach in preventing violence against all Fijian women and girls. The Government's aim is to match the support received from the Australian Government on an annual basis with a dedicated budget allocation.”
In her opening address, the Minister responsible for leading the Fiji NAP, Honourable Lynda Tabuya, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, stated “Fiji faces some of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world. A national crisis of such proportions deserves nothing less than the highest attention of all of us. There can be no progress, when Fijian women and girls in all diversity live in cycles of violence at home, at their workplace, while going to school and while on public transportation. The Fiji National Action Plan centers on dismantling the culture of patriarchy and the pillars of gender inequality across all aspects of our society. Violence against women and girls is both a symptom and a cause of gender inequality – and equality is at the heart of the solution.
Thirteen settings, covering the breadth of Fiji society were consulted, both in-person and virtually, across Fiji which sought input from over 2,100 diverse women, men, and youth across Fiji’s four divisions. At the launch, five key settings - education, sports and recreation, informal sector, faith and traditional institutions -- committed to tangible actions with milestones for the first 18 months of implementation.
In addition to the funding allocation by ministries, the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation commits to setting up a dedicated national Coordination and Implementation Unit, developing a transformative national communications strategy to promote positive gender and social norms and facilitate a Community Attitudes Survey to set a baseline for attitudes towards women and girls and the issue of violence.
The development of the Fiji NAP was supported by a Secretariat, comprised of MWCPA, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, and UN Women (as technical assistance to the Government of Fiji), and the Fiji NAP Technical Working Group (made up of key civil society organisations and government ministries) to provide strategic and technical oversight as the NAP develops.
Shared Ms Shamima Ali, the Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and a member of the Secretariat and Technical Working Group, “for Fiji to arrive at this juncture in its history where patriarchy and gender inequality has been attributed as the root cause of violence against women and girls, in an official government policy document and an action to prevent violence, is unprecedented. Women are being abused and harmed by gender-based violence. So, while we celebrate today what this moment means to us, we must never forget why we are doing this and why this is just the beginning of a long journey towards preventing and ending violence.”
In her closing address, UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, Officer-in-Charge, Ms Sonia Rastogi said, “We congratulate the Government of Fiji and its people on the launch of such an important and focused action plan on the prevention of violence against women and girls for their country. It has been an honour for UN Women to be the technical partner for the Government of Fiji and supporting the development of the NAP. Our support has been made possible through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls programme, funded primarily by the European Union, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and UN Women. We look forward to our continued partnership in the five-year implementation phase of the Fiji NAP”.
A copy of the Fiji NAP can be accessed here