There is increased momentum for Pacific Women as it moves into the second half of its 10-year timeframe and responds to the Three-Year Evaluation and Roadmap recommendations. New regional programs are being developed to accelerate work in the areas of leadership and decision making and women’s economic empowerment. The Pacific Women Research Strategy is moving into full implementation and activities will ramp up in the North Pacific. Across the program there will be new opportunities for reflection and learning.
Pacific Women will respond to recommendations from the Three-Year Evaluation and the Roadmap. Adopting the recommendations from these direction setting documents, Pacific Women will increasingly support evidence-based programs and innovative pilots that seek transformative change.
New initiatives will increase efforts towards the outcome of women’s economic empowerment. Planned activities include a gender review of DFAT’s regional economic growth programs and a design for a new multi-country initiative focusing on increasing women’s economic benefits from organic value chains and ethical trade agri-business. A scoping study will be conducted in Kiribati to try to identify viable economic empowerment opportunities for women and Pacific Women will assist Palauan women in local business and enterprise as well as building local capacity to start or grow women’s businesses in the Federated States of Micronesia.
There will be a stronger focus on increasing women’s leadership and decision making opportunities. A design will be developed for a new multi-country program that will work with women and men to increase women’s participation and representation as voters, candidates, party and electoral officials and sitting members. The Women’s Leadership Initiative will provide an opportunity for women from the Pacific, who are on Australia Awards scholarships, to strengthen their leadership potential. Participants will be mentored by women leaders and role models, including Indigenous Australian leaders, private sector representatives and pioneering women leaders from Pacific Island countries.Pacific Women will also develop a program to support adolescent girls.
New ideas to end violence against women will be trialled at the same time as the program builds on the successes of existing activities showing promising results. Pacific Women will partner with UN Women and the European Union to expand violence prevention programs. The SASA! training program will be adapted and rolled-out in Papua New Guinea.
A number of evaluations, crucial to the program’s learning and improvement, are underway. An evaluation of the Pacific Women Support Unit will assess its effectiveness and provide recommendations for how it could better facilitate Pacific Women outcomes. The evaluation will also assess whether the model is the best way to support implementation of the program. Evaluations will also be conducted for the UNICEF Child Protection Program and UN Women Markets for Change Program. The Pacific Women country plans for Samoa, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu will all be reviewed in the coming year.
Two pieces of research will be commissioned annually under the Pacific Women Research Strategy. The first of these will be a study to examine the acceptability and feasibility of developing an unconditional cash transfer pilot program that meets the immediate needs of survivors of violence in the Pacific. It includes women who choose to stay in relationships and those who need to leave. The study will explore the assumption that a lack of access to income and assets is a barrier to women’s ability to negotiate safe relationships and that expanding women’s support options will lead to better outcomes. Not only will it examine medium and long-term options for women’s financial security, it will also look at opportunities to build a life post-violence and ways for survivors of violence to achieve greater economic independence.
A scoping study will be undertaken to provide recommendations and a business plan for a Pacific gender research portal that will act as repository for regional gender research. This activity implements a key recommendation of the Advancing Gender Research in the Pacific Symposium held in June 2016.
There will be opportunities for reflection and learning in the coming year. A revamped Pacific Women website will be launched that will improve the accessibility of country and regional information from the program and across the region. Country reflection workshops will be held in conjunction with reviews of country plans. Pacific Women will also support the Women’s Leadership for Gender Equality Dialogue between selected women civil society and other leaders and the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. A regional learning event on how to engage girls in gender equality programming is also planned as part of the design of a program to support adolescent girls referred to above.