PACIFIC WOMEN ADVISORY BOARD
The Pacific Women Advisory Board comprises 12 eminent women and men from across the Pacific – Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. They work in a wide range of areas – government, bureaucracy, private sector and civil society and are strong advocates for gender equality in their own communities. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Community (SPC) are also represented on the Board. Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls is an observer to the Board.
The Advisory Board held its fourth meeting in Apia, Samoa on 4 April 2016. Chairing the meeting, the Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said:‘The Pacific Women Advisory Board provides advice to the Australian government on the direction of the program, ensuring it responds to the needs of Pacific island countries and takes into account Pacific Island beliefs and culture’.
She added that ‘it is a privilege to work with such passionate and experienced people who are working to improve the lives of women, men and children across the region.’
Following the Board meeting, members attended the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnership’s fourth annual forum, also held in Apia. Members had an opportunity to speak with Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mata Tuatagaloa, and head of the new Drug and Alcohol Court and Family Court, Judge Leilani Tuala Warren. They visited the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust and the Samoa Police where they learned from some of the flagship initiatives in Samoa that address violence, including towards women and girls.
Including young women’s perspectives on the Pacific Women Advisory Board
Yoshiko Yamaguchi-Capelle’s participation on the Pacific Women Advisory Board demonstrates the value of including young Pacific women in leadership and decision making.
The Pacific Women Advisory Board provides advice on the strategic direction of Pacific Women. It is composed of Pacific Island women and men who are strong advocates of gender equality in their own communities, including 26-year-old Ms Yoshiko Yamaguchi-Capelle.
Ms Yamaguchi-Capelle was the first young Pacific Island woman to be appointed to the Board in 2015, nominated through the Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Alliance.
She sees her involvement as a young woman leader on the Board as ‘crucial’ to the spirit of the initiative.
‘Most often, you don’t find enough safe accessible space for young women from different diverse backgrounds to participate in. Having a young woman representative on the Board is a great standard to set for future decision making bodies both regionally and nationally.’
Ms Yamaguchi-Capelle knows the opportunities and challenges of being a young Pacific Island woman. Born and raised in the RMI’s capital Majuro, she travelled to Hawaii for university where she majored in political science and women’s studies.
‘I have been an advocate of youth from a human rights perspective since I returned from university in 2012 because of the issues surrounding youth in the Marshalls. More than half of the population consists of people below the age of 30, most of who are struggling with numerous social issues. I was a teenage mother myself, having my first child at seventeen. So when I came back and was working with WUTMI1 as the Public Awareness Coordinator, I would go and talk to communities about domestic violence and I also incorporated information about teenage pregnancy.’
In early 2016, Ms Yamaguchi-Capelle participated in the Pacific Women and Pacific Leadership Program jointly organised adaptive leadership training. She said the workshop allowed her ‘to connect the dots. It was really a mapping of how I came to be where I am and identifying possible routes to take in the future in my advocacy.’
The training was timed to support representatives attending the 60th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York.
‘It was thrilling be a part of something so big as the CSW!’ she said. ‘On top of my agenda was to lobby for young women’s right to participate at all levels of decision making.’
Ms Yamaguchi-Capelle believes young people need to ‘have a say’ because they make up such a large proportion of Pacific populations.
‘Imagine the work that can be done if we have more youth participation’.
This is the second progress report of Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) . It provides a summary of the program’s achievements and challenges from July 2015 to June 2016.
Pacific Women is a 10-year $320 million initiative that aims to support women – regardless of their income, location, disability, age or ethnic group – in the 14 Pacific Island Forum countries to participate fully, freely and safely in political, economic and social life. Pacific Women supports countries to meet the commitments made in the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration. Pacific Women is managed by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) in Canberra and through its offices in the Pacific.
Goal: Women in the Pacific (regardless of income, location, disability, age or ethnic group) participate fully, freely and safely in political, economic and social life.
The outcomes sought by the program are:
- Women, and women’s interests, are increasingly and effectively represented and visible through leadership at all levels of decision making.
- Women have expanded economic opportunities to earn income and accumulate economic assets.
- Violence against women is reduced and survivors of violence have access to support services and to justice.
- Women in the Pacific will have a stronger sense of their own agency, supported by a changing legal and social environment and through increased access to the services they need.
In summary, by the end of the fourth year of implementation Pacific Women has:
- funded 126 activities, of which 93 are implementation activities2 and 33 are strategic direction setting and learning activities3, the 93 implementation activities include 20 regional activities and 73 activities at country level; and
- spent $86.16 million to support gender equality across the region.
Pacific Women has gained momentum in the past year, through strong stakeholder engagement and proactive project implementation, supported by strengthened systems, resources and technical assistance.
Support Unit offices have been established in Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG). To support DFAT with program management and the many facets of program- and activity-level implementation of this large initiative, the Pacific Women Support Unit (Support Unit) provides technical, administrative and logistical support to the Pacific Women program (both bilaterally and regionally). Two Support Unit offices have been established; the main office in Suva, Fiji and a sub-office in Port Moresby, specifically to support Pacific Women activities and partners in PNG. The Support Unit and DFAT’s Pacific Women team (based in Canberra, Suva and DFAT offices around the region) use a one team partnership approach to manage the Pacific Women program.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems have been put in place to ensure that the program is learning from and about itself continuously. M&E frameworks, technical specialists, toolkits and trainings, accompanied by a schedule of activity evaluations ensure that Pacific Women is drawing from current experience to promote evidence-informed policies and programs.
It has also been a period of development for the Knowledge Management Database that will systematically capture, collate and analyse project data.
There has been a range of direction setting work that draws on local and international knowledge to help set the future path for Pacific Women. Consultants have been recruited to develop a ‘roadmap’ that will guide Pacific Women’s future investments in the areas of women’s leadership and decision making, women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and enhancing women’s agency, with a focus on investments at the regional and multi-country levels. An examination of legal barriers to gender equality in 14 Pacific Island countries highlighting ways in which gender equality can be supported through legislative change, practical action and consultation with governments and other stakeholders, will inform DFAT’s gender mainstreaming and advocacy work. Pacific Women will learn from the Last Taboo research initiative that examines barriers to women and girls’ effective menstrual management and potential impacts of these barriers on their participation in education and income generation. A regional review is also underway to assess the relevance and quality of counselling services available to survivors of violence in the Pacific in order to inform efforts to increase the effectiveness of these services.
Pacific Women has continued to support research and learning events that bring together stakeholders on targeted themes. These events enable participants to share information and promote coordination and liaison across the region. The fourth annual forum of the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships (PWPP) project brought together 60 parliamentarians from Pacific Island countries, Australia and New Zealand. They had the opportunity to share and learn from each other and developed priority actions for Pacific parliaments to promote women’s economic development. A regional symposium on advancing gender research in the Pacific attracted participants involved in conducting and using Pacific gender research. Participants developed Pacific-led actions to take forward the recommendations from the Pacific Gender Research Scoping Study. The symposium also enabled experts to contribute to the planning of Pacific Women’s own research strategy.
To build the capacity of key implementing partners, Pacific Women has delivered a range of customised organisation strengthening strategies. These have included organisational assessments, training in financial management and support for the development of financial systems, program planning and risk management facilitation, as well as tailored programs of support for building the capacity of implementing partners from grassroots organisations like the Women in Fisheries Network and WUTMI.
This brief introduction to the Annual Progress Report highlights some examples of how Pacific Women is working in line with its program principles. Case studies, along with key facts and figures and lessons learned from the fourth year of Pacific Women are presented in the remainder of this report. They reflect the diversity of voices and talent across the Pacific committed to supporting gender equality.
Key Principles of Program Implementation
- The program will promote evidence-informed policies and programs, drawing from current experience and ongoing attention to high-quality monitoring, evaluation and research.
- The program will support sharing of information and increased coordination and liaison between development partners working for women’s empowerment in the Pacific.
- Change for Pacific women can be supported by donors but must be shaped and led by women and men in the Pacific.
PROGRAM AT A GLANCE
FACTS AND FIGURES
In the first four years of Pacific Women:
PROGRAM AT A GLANCE
COUNTRY AND REGIONAL SNAPSHOT4
4 The funding commitment identified for each country is the value of activities included in country plans. It does not reflect the total commitment under Pacific Women over the 10 year program period.
Total Commitment: $445,000
Three activities proposed to commence in 2016
Niue is supported through the Pacific Women regional program.
Total Commitment: $450,000
One activity proposed to commence in 2016
PROGRESS AGAINST THE PACIFIC LEADERS’ GENDER EQUALITY DECLARATION
This section provides a snapshot of the progress the Pacific Islands Forum member countries are making in meeting their commitments to the Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED) made in 2012. It is based on the PLGED Trend Assessment Report 2012–2016 (2016 PLGED report).5 It identifies progress and challenges to achieving gender equality priorities in the region. In addition, it provides the context for understanding the contributions of Pacific Women to current progress.
What is the Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration?
The 2012 PLGED represents a high-level political commitment to gender equality. It also provides an accountability framework that countries and development partners can use to focus their programs and measure progress.
The areas of work identified in the PLGED parallel Pacific Women’s commitments to ending violence against women, and enhancing women’s economic empowerment and women and leadership. The Leaders’ Declaration also clearly directs policy change to build links between the strategic promotion of gender equality and women’s practical needs for education, appropriate and accessible health care, and their rights to live in a world free from physical and sexual violence.
Full text of the Declaration is available at Annex B.
All Forum countries have made progress on their gender equality commitments since 2012, some faster than others. The 2016 PLGED report highlights these gains and emphasises that political will is critical to further accelerate progress on women’s rights in the region:
‘Political will and leadership is required at all levels – in all government sectors, including central planning, finance, civil society, private sector, regional organisations, communities and among development partners i.’
Countries have made greater efforts toward mainstreaming gender equality issues into government policies and programs, and built legal and regulatory frameworks designed to end violence against women. Samoa and Solomon Islands have recently enacted legislation to support women in political leadership. In addition, across the region there has been expansion of women’s financial inclusion and financial literacy programs and introduction of more gender equitable policies that protect women in formal employment. These actions demonstrate how governments are promoting women’s rights and addressing international commitments to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), regional frameworks such as the Revised Pacific Platform for Action on Advancement of Women and Gender Equality (2005–2015) and national gender policies.
‘Six countries demonstrated significant increases in the number of women in local government through the introduction of quotas. The number of women contesting local elections has also increased due to personal leadership development, support networks and capacity building programs ii.’
The 2016 PLGED report also identifies ongoing challenges linked to socially-entrenched negative perceptions of women and girls’ roles in Pacific society. These contribute to the perpetuation of violence against women and girls and negatively impact how girls and women are treated in education, in the workplace, at home and in public. Gender inequality slows development progress across the region.
To address challenges and respond to lessons learned there is a need to build political will and change attitudes at all levels, and to make systemic and structural changes. Systemic changes include, for example, aligning national legislation with the articles of CEDAW, increasing domestic budget and donor support for national women’s offices, developing tracking systems to monitor gender equality expenditures, resourcing the implementation of violence against women legislation and policies, and investing in improving women’s access to justice, social welfare and health services.
The report also highlights lessons learned across countries about region-wide needs for improved collection of sex-disaggregated data and the development and use of standardised gender equality indicators.
‘Implementation of the PLGED across all six priority areas6 is challenging due to limited resources, lack of data and political will to adapt regional commitments to national aspirations… National Women’s Office budgets in Forum island countries are less than 1% of national appropriations. Tracking allocations of domestic budgets towards gender equality is critical at national-leveliii.’
6The six priority areas addressed in the PLGED are: i) gender responsive government programs and policies; ii) decision making; iii) economic empowerment; iv) ending violence against women; v) gender parity in education; and vi) sexual and reproductive health.