Violence against women, particularly young women, is a pronounced problem in the Pacific. This is recognised by the United Nations Working Group on Youth (UNWGY), chaired by the International Labour Organization. On Tuesday 27 November a panel discussion on the theme “Creating safe spaces of young women - our homes, schools, workplaces and communities” was organized in Suva, Fiji, by the working group.
The panel discussion was a contribution for and by young people in the Pacific towards the UN-wide 16 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women in the region, where various agencies highlight the problem through several activities from 25 November to10 December.
Ms Drue Slatter, Miss Hibiscus 2012 for Fiji, opened the panel debate with a speech on why the problem is so important in the region, highlighting the detrimental effects of violence against young women.
Mr Govind Sami, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Women, Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare, opened the debate and spoke of the role of the Government, including its obligations to create safe spaces for young women.
Ms Roshika Deo, Coordinator for the Emerging Leaders Forum Alumni of the Fiji Women Rights Movement, spoke about the realities faced by young women in homes, workplaces and communities. According to Ms Deo, one of the main problems for young women is that not enough is done by responsible stakeholders to address the issue. This was supported by Ms Emily Erasito and Mr Aman Singh. Both speakers are youths from the Pacific and affiliated to the Pacific Youth Council and Wansolwara Peace Building Movement.
From the UN, Mr Cameron Noble, Programme Specialist on Conflict Prevention with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), spoke about the importance of involving young men to end violence against young women in communities. He mentioned that since young men are often perpetrators of violence against young women, they must also be part of the solution. Changing concepts of Pacific masculinities, educating boys and girls on human rights, and ensuring that children are protected from violence in their homes is vital. Boys who are exposed to violence in their own homes are more likely to perpetrate violence against women themselves.
In addition, Ms Asilika Rainima, Deputy Programmes Manager for Save the Children Fiji, spoke about creating safe spaces for young women in schools, including children. Ms Angela Thomas, the Human Security Officer with the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, explained how the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (2012) can be used to end violence.
Approximately seventy persons were present for the panel debate, and the inputs by the panellists were followed by questions and answers from the audience. The debate will be broadcasted by FemLINK Pacific radio station. Ms Sima Chand, board member of the organization, was moderator for the debate.
|Date:||27 November 2012|
|Action Type:||Awareness Raising|