Special Focus

Pacific Women is a complex program attempting to support Pacific partners to address the multi-dimensional issue of gender inequality in the Pacific. This requires a variety of approaches working across different locations and contexts. There is no simple or single map or plan which can be devised to direct the program within every country as well as regionally. The program’s theory of change proposes a learning by doing approach. This enables Pacific Women to respond to changing local contexts and the identified needs of women and communities, informed by high quality monitoring and evaluation and the development of comprehensive strategies for change. The following three special focus activities demonstrate this approach.


Pacific Women continues to place a high value on quality monitoring, evaluation and learning to inform evidence-based decision making. This reporting period saw Pacific Women invest in a number of strategic evaluation activities in a bid to ensure the program continues to learn and adapt.

The Pacific Women Three-Year evaluation was finalised in July 2017. The evaluation did not assess the impact of individual activities in the 14 countries, rather it evaluated whether the program had achieved its first interim objective of establishing the capacity, resources, relationships and understanding for action across country and regional activities.

The evaluation consulted nearly 250 stakeholders and found that Pacific Women was responding flexibly to cultural variation across the region. There is consensus that the four intended outcomes of Pacific Women continue to apply well to the Pacific context and have good potential to generate change. The evaluation team noted good examples of active coordination across the program. Pacific Women’s theory of change was found to be lending coherence to gender equality work by acting as an effective focus and common framework for implementing partners.

While country ownership by governments and by DFAT was assessed as being good, the sense of ownership and involvement in the program’s leadership and decision making by women at all levels from the Pacific needs to be strengthened.

The evaluation recommended that in the next phase of the program, to consolidate the experience and relationships built to date, Pacific Women needs to act more consistently and follow the logic of the program’s theory of change. The evaluation also recommended that the program focus on progressing Pacific Women’s overall aspirations of building momentum and Pacific leadership for the program. Specific evaluation recommendations are being actioned by DFAT with assistance from the Support Unit. This includes work to ensure that the Pacific Women model of implementing through a series of partnerships, is better understood.

Another important evaluation exercise was the inaugural workshop to review Pacific Women’s monitoring and evaluation system. This workshop is one way of ensuring the program’s monitoring and evaluation system remains relevant and useful both to DFAT and to implementing partners. The workshop brought together 35 participants, with representation from DFAT, implementing partners from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Solomon Islands, members from Pacific Women’s monitoring, evaluation and learning panel and Support Unit staff.

Participants at the Pacific Women monitoring and evaluation system review workshop held in May 2017. Photo: Shazia Usman, Pacific Women Support Unit.

As a result, Pacific Women’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Framework was revised. This included the addition of guidance notes to assist countries and implementing partners to develop and revise monitoring and evaluation plans. The revisions also included an update to the theory of change, which now identifies seven program strategies and accompanying assumptions that the program can track over the life of Pacific Women.

Finally, this reporting period saw the Support Unit complete entry of all project data into Pacific Women’s knowledge management system database. The program is now able to synthesise project, country, regional and program-level data, allowing for more robust reporting on Pacific Women’s reach and scope.


The Pacific Women Roadmap, published on 1 June 2017, helps to set the direction of the program at the regional and multi-country levels. Investment at the national-level is steered by individual country plans that guide how Pacific Women selects and supports activities in each country. The regional Roadmap serves a similar purpose, acting as a tool to support decision making on future investments for regional and multi-country activities.

Drawing on global and regional best practice, relevant regional development frameworks and commitments and consultations with a range of stakeholders, three research teams prepared thematic background reports to inform the Roadmap. The researchers tested their findings with regional specialists through advisory reference groups. The results were published in April 2017 as three synthesis reports on leadership and decision making, women’s economic empowerment and ending violence against women.

The Roadmap complements and builds on the Pacific Women design and delivery strategy, which are the foundation documents of the program. These documents recognise that the region is characterised by complex differences, dynamics and rates of development. The Roadmap reflects the commitment of Pacific Women to inclusive and sustainable change that will increase gender equality in the region. Such change includes identification and elimination of discriminatory social norms and harmful gender-based stereotypes, recognising that these norms and stereotypes can vary between and within cultures, communities and countries.

Targeted at the regional and multi-country level, the Roadmap addresses investments in gender equality that can provide economies of scale, help develop a critical mass of influence, contribute to national ownership of gender equality initiatives and foster knowledge and understanding of social change. It is also designed to guide development of bilateral activities.

The Roadmap highlights strategic regional and multi-country mechanisms and initiatives that can help eliminate harmful social norms and accelerate the achievement of gender equality. It identifies priority action areas of work that include both existing and new initiatives.

The Roadmap provides guidance on maintaining and expanding partnerships in the region and stresses the need to support women’s agency and action across sectors. It also identifies selection criteria for new regional and multi-country investments which are already being applied to assist with future programming decisions.


Pacific Women is committed to ensuring that women with disabilities are involved in, and benefit from the program, with the program goal of ‘Women in the Pacific (regardless of income, location, disability, age or ethnic group) participate fully, freely and safely in political, economic and social life’. Consultations held as part of the design process included disability organisations across the Pacific.

Pacific Women has a strong focus on the needs, experiences and strengths of marginalised women, including women with disabilities. Country plan development has included consultation with women with disabilities and disabled persons’ organisations. Country plan analysis, reporting and assessment also includes a focus on the experience and outcomes for women with disabilities. Pacific Women has ensured women with disabilities are invited to trainings, conferences and other program events. Data is gathered on whether women with disabilities are beneficiaries of Pacific Women activities.

Regionally, Pacific Women works in partnership with UNICEF to fund the Pacific Disability Forum, a regional peak body that works in partnership with disabled persons’ organisations and an early intervention program for children with disabilities, their parents and caregivers. Pacific Women has funded work with women with disabilities through Fiji-based non-government organisation femLINKpacific and through regional initiatives such as the Pacific Leadership Program and the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team.

In Cook Islands, Pacific Women is partnering with the Gender and Development Division, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Business Trade and Investment Board and the National Council of Women. The program is supporting the integration of women with disabilities in socio-economic development, by creating an enabling environment for full participation.

In Tuvalu, Pacific Women supported the Tuvalu Disabled Persons Organisation, Fusi Alofa Association of Tuvalu and the Ministry of Home Affairs to work with a consultant to conduct a national disability study. This activity is highlighted in the Tuvalu section of this report.

One seat on the Pacific Women Advisory Board, which provides advice on the strategic direction of Pacific Women, is reserved for a woman with a disability. The incumbent member is Ms Savina Nongebatu, the Office Manager for People with Disabilities in Solomon Islands. She shares her dream for the Pacific region in the future:

‘I would like to see women in the Pacific, including women with disabilities, live in a gender equitable society where they are free to exercise their rights and are free of discrimination and also are economically empowered and enjoy life—like everybody else in this world.’

Pacific Women is in the process of developing a Disability Guidance Note in line with DFAT’s Development for All Strategy which will outline concrete steps for the program to follow to improve disability inclusive development using a twin track approach of mainstreaming and targeted interventions.