Lessons Learned

1 Analysis of gender and power relations, and understanding and addressing discriminatory systems and structures, is critical to progress.

Gender inequalities cannot be considered independently from the broader systems of discrimination or disadvantage in which they occur.

The ‘Do No Harm’ research from the SSGM program at the Australian National University has concluded that achieving women’s economic empowerment is contingent not only on women having access to economic resources but also on the removal of the impediments to freedoms that disempower women. Pacific Women activities able to demonstrate the most positive changes are grounded in strong gender analysis and have strategies to address the gendered power relations that sustain high levels of discrimination and violence against women.

  • The M4C program has shown that to make marketplaces safer for women vendors, it is also necessary to undertake interventions aimed at reducing cumbersome and discriminatory local and municipal government systems and regulations.
  • The Connecting Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Vanuatu project identified that these education and training activities need to link with interventions that aim to expand employment opportunities for women and support gender equitable workplace policies, such as provision for maternity leave.


Looking forward, there are a number of initiatives Pacific Women stakeholders will progress to understand better the systemic and structural barriers to gender equality; and where possible, develop or create links to interventions that address those barriers. The Support Unit will investigate how best to include gender and power analyses in future program designs. Implementing partners will be supported to monitor outcomes using gender analysis frameworks (such as that used in the M4C program) to build the information base and the evidence about the connections between gender relations and program outcomes.

2 Community awareness projects on violence against women are not sufficient on their own to cause lasting changes in attitudes and behaviours that will prevent violence from occurring.

Emerging global evidence on ending violence against women is showing that sustainable, effective prevention programming requires not only a focus on raising awareness about the inappropriateness of violence, but also involves supporting strategies that are aimed at achieving community-wide endorsement of more positive, gender equitable social norms and community-led actions that can facilitate women’s empowerment.

Pacific Women is funding an increasing number of activities that aim to prevent violence against women. Given this, the program will need to ensure these activities are based on a strong understanding of knowledge, attitudes and values at individual, family and community levels and that they work at multiple levels to achieve longer-term and transformative changes.

3 Better monitoring and evaluation of projects aimed at ending violence against women is crucial to show that change has taken place.

Activities supported by Pacific Women that are focused on ending violence against women differ in approach, scale and possibly, impact. However, program reporting has shown there is a huge variation in the way that these projects are monitored and evaluated. This makes it difficult at this stage to draw conclusions on the impact, both individually and collectively, of Pacific Women’s efforts to end violence against women in the Pacific.

As part of work to develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks, Pacific Women implementing partners, in conjunction with the Pacific Women Support Unit, need to investigate, develop and implement more effective ways of identifying the changes to which they have contributed.

4 Training activities need to be practical and contextually sensitive to be effective.

Projects supported by Pacific Women that use simple and practical methods to reinforce women’s and men’s understanding of rights and responsibilities have been shown to be successful in bringing about change. For example, the practical and contextually sensitive nature of training provided by organisations such as FemLINKPACIFIC, Vanuatu Women’s Centre and Women’s Rights Action Movement for the market vendor association executive members in Vanuatu, provided an entry point for introducing complex ideas – including equality – which normally remain out of reach for market vendors. Similarly, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum’s applied training methods that addressed the needs of council and produce market staff in their daily work provided an entry point for ideas and examples about the impact of gender in the workforce.

Looking forward, Pacific Women can explore ways of sharing effective training models and supporting partners in making their training practical and contextually sensitive.

5 There is considerable Pacific gender research being produced, but support is needed to improve its quality, accessibility, and its links to policy-making.

The Pacific Gender Research Scoping Study supported by Pacific Women assessed and reported on the status of gender research in the region. The associated symposium and workshop, Advancing Gender Research in the Pacific, reflected on the study findings which indicated that although there has been a steady increase of gender research publications on the Pacific, the majority of research has been undertaken by researchers based outside the Pacific. The research is of varying quality, with limited accessibility and weak connections to development policy and practice in the region. Within the Pacific, expertise and resources to support relevant and good quality gender research and make it accessible to a wide range of users, are limited.

Pacific Women will work collaboratively with research stakeholders to investigate options for long term support to improve the gender research capacity of Pacific peoples. The gender research scoping study suggests that collaboration between Pacific universities and Pacific scholars, and gender researchers based outside the Pacific, is a useful strategy. Increased promotion of Pacific-led gender research is also important.