The Pacific region continues to hold some of the highest figures of violence against women and some of the lowest figures for female political representation, said New Zealand group Women’s Rights and Advocacy in the Pacific (WRAP)(1).
With the release of the report, Promoting Gender Equity in the Pacific, WRAP is calling on Pacific Island leaders to take urgent action to promote gender equity in the region.
The report details 14 recommendations on how to effectively address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and to increase women’s roles in public and political decision making.
“SGBV and inequality in decision-making highlight the entrenched discrimination against women in the Pacific; discrimination which has an extensive impact on Pacific communities,” said WRAP Chairperson and Director of Family Planning International, Sumi Subramaniam.
On average, two out of every three women in the region have experienced some form of violence. SGBV is an entrenched and widespread human rights problem, while numerous barriers continue to inhibit the participation of women in decision-making at all levels in Pacific Island states.
“Gender equity is fundamental for achieving true sustainable development in the region. Until Pacific leaders step up and make addressing the high levels of SGBV and ensuring equal participation of women in decision-making, the prosperous, stable and secure Pacific they seek will remain an intangible aspiration,” said Patrick Holmes, WRAP coordinating group member and Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer.
The report’s recommendations come as a result of a review of regional data, and panel discussions with regional women’s rights experts of initiatives that have been used to successfully address these issues.
WRAP hosted the panel discussions in Auckland, alongside the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting to encourage Pacific Island leaders and regional donors to do more to promote gender equity in the region.
“WRAP will continue to urge Pacific Island leaders and donors in the region to take account of the seriousness of the issues and the recommendations in this report”, said Subramaniam.
WRAP or Women's Rights and Advocacy in the Pacific, is an Aotearoa New Zealand-based group made up of New Zealand affiliates of international organisations which promote and work on the rights of women in the Pacific as all or part of their remit. Members include Oxfam New Zealand, Family Planning International NZ, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, UNICEF and UNWOMEN NZ.