JOINT MEDIA RELEASE: Gender Status Card for Churches in the Pacific
Suva, Fiji – The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), in partnership with UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), has launched the Pacific’s first Gender Status Card for Churches. Such a resource was the result of efforts undertaken in the framework of the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) programme, which supports the partnership.
This action-oriented resource, developed in consultation and partnership with member churches across the Pacific, will guide PCC’s member churches and other faith organisations in the region on assessing, monitoring, and implementing their commitments towards creating safe churches free from gender-based violence in the Pacific.
“Today marks a significant day in the history of Pacific churches by putting into action the commitment to promote gender equality in churches and most importantly by highlighting the realisation of creation - that everyone is valued equal in the eyes of God and created in the image and likeliness of God. For too long women have been viewed as emotional and weak, and men as intellectual and leaders, and that became the order of things and also influenced Christian theology and biblical interpretations – these interpretations were mainly carried out by men. Today we are changing our story and our narrative,” said Deaconess Temalesi Makutu, from the Pacific Conference of Churches.
Reverend Dr. Tevita Havea, the Moderator of the Pacific Conference of Churches also shared: “In the nine years since I have served as the Moderator, I have watched the journey to strengthen churches in order to address gender-based violence in all its forms. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Just and Safe Communities of Women and Men in partnership with UN Women through the Pacific Partnership, has made progress in developing a process that respects the diversity within our fellowship of churches, that will hold us accountable to our collective commitment and will help each individual church to progress from where they currently are.”
PCC and UN Women have partnered on PCC’s ‘Just and Safe Pacific Communities of Women and Men’ programme which aims to contribute to the attainment of safe, inclusive and violence free faith communities in the Pacific. It does so by preventing and responding to violence against women and girls, by using strategic, collaborative, and innovative approaches and by working together with religious leaders and faith communities across the region. This is supported through the Pacific Partnership, funded primarily by the European Union, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and UN Women.
“Churches and faith-based organisations play a key role in shaping attitudes and social norms in communities. It is thus crucial to involve them in the efforts to end violence against women and girls and the equality agenda at large. The European Union is pleased to support this kind of commitment by the faith community itself, and more so to see concrete actions at community level, such as this new tool. Congratulations to Pacific Churches Conference and all those involved in this critical accomplishment”, said Dr. Erja Askola, Acting Head of Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.
Evidence collected over the past two decades shows that communities and societies can stop violence before it starts – that prevention of violence is possible within our lifetime.
“The evidence is growing on what works to prevent violence against women and girls, especially strategies that strengthen relationships, empower women, and transform harmful attitudes, beliefs, and norms into those that are more gender equal. Implementation of these strategies in faith settings is crucial if we are to see lasting social norms change in relation to violence against women in the Pacific. With the launch of this resource, and efforts by other faith-based partners, we are on our way. As we congratulate PCC, we also acknowledge and recognize the decades of advocacy and hard work of women faith leaders and members across the region who have paved the way for this to be possible,” said Representative of UN Women Fiji MCO, Ms Sandra Bernklau.
The rollout of the Gender Status Card for Churches in the Pacific will take place at the national level in nine countries – the first step includes holding trainings for church leaders and Gender Desk Officers on how to undertake assessments for their churches.
A copy of the Gender Status Card for Churches in the Pacific is available here.
Media enquiries should be directed to:
- Netani Vakacegu Rika
Development and Communications Manager
Pacific Conference of Churches
Mobile: +679 3311277
- Shazia Usman
Communications and Media Specialist
Mobile: +679 9228389
Pacific Conference of Churches
Formed in 1961 by key Pacific church figures, the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) is a regional response to a changing world and independence. Church Leaders from Dutch Papua in the West to Samoa in the East gathered to form this regional ecumenical organisation out of former mission churches. The inaugural PCC Assembly was held at Lifou in Kanaky (New Caledonia) in 1966. The PCC works closely with the Pacific Theological College which opened in 1966 and the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools, founded in 1969.
Every four years the heads of the PCC’s member organisations meet to mandate the secretariat’s work during a General Assembly. The General Assembly appoints the Moderator, Deputy Moderator, an executive committee (which must include women and young people) and elects the General Secretary. The Executive Committee meets each year and processes the work of the Finance and Business Committee which meets once a quarter. This is our governance structure. The annual Pacific Church Leaders Meeting falls outside of the PCC Constitution but allows an additional advisory and oversight layer to guide the work of the secretariat.
Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership)
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 grave human rights violation - women and girls in the Pacific region experience constant and continual inequalities including low levels of participation in decision-making, limited economic opportunities, and restricted access to critical services 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.
The EUR27.6 million programme is funded primarily by the European Union (EUR12.7m) with targeted support from the Governments of Australia (EUR11.1m) and New Zealand (EUR3.2m) and cost-sharing with UN Women (EUR0.6m) and is led by the Pacific Community (SPC), UN Women and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. More information is here.