New Pacific Partnership program increases commitment to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Hon. Dr Sharma Stone launches a new Pacific Partnership program. Nuku’alofa, Tonga. 5 December 2018. Photo credit: Matangi Tonga.

(5 December 2018) The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls was launched in Tonga by Australia’s third Ambassador for Women and Girls, Hon Dr Sharman Stone on December 5.

It is the first time for the Pacific region, the European Union, Australian Government, United Nations and the Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific (CROP) to partner in coordinating the region’s largest single project to date, aimed at preventing violence against women and girls in the Pacific.

Dr Sharman said while this was a new program, it would 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.

She said violence against women is a shared challenge that Australia shared with the Pacific region and they were pleased to be working together to share promising strategies and solutions.

“It is an inter-generation issue as children learn in homes how to be parents, how to be leaders in their communities and if they see how you react or lash out at a loved one or abuse them, they will see how you behave. We’ve got to tackle that inter-generation transmission in gender based violence in our homes,” she said.

“We are united by everybody’s right as a human not to live in fear of abuse.”

She said this was an important program as it brings together a group of collaborators, “the UN who are champions for making things better in this planet, EU, Australia, and regional organizations such as PIF and SPC”.

Barrier to equality

Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner in Suva said there could be no sustainable development without gender equality, and a key barrier to equality is violence against women and girls.

Pacific Leaders have recognized 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.”

For Tonga, Acting CEO ‘Onetoto ‘Anisi at the Ministry of Internal Affairs said Government was pleased to welcome this program and be an initial partner with the Pacific Partnership. He said together they could determine the best approaches to prevent violence against women to be progressed.

Transform social norms

In addition, this partnership aims to transform the social norms that allow violence against women and girls to continue; 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.

The EUR19.5 million program (USD$22m or Pa’anga $49m) is funded primarily by the European Union (EUR12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR4.9m) and cost-sharing from UN Women (EUR0.6m).

The program also has three components, jointly coordinated by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UNWomen Fiji Multi-Country Office.

The partnership was launched in Fiji last month.