Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

What's the Issue?

The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of violence against women recorded in the world. In countries where prevalence studies have been undertaken, up to 68 per cent of women have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by a partner in their lifetime.

Despite the severity and extent of violence, services for survivors are limited, and virtually non-existent in remote areas. This issue is particularly critical in the Pacific context, where 80 per cent of Pacific Islanders live in rural areas or on outer islands.

Even when services are available, Pacific women may face other barriers, such as social norms that place blame on survivors, creating stigma, and fostering a culture of silence around the issue. These social and cultural factors make it difficult for women to talk about their experience, let alone report it and seek help. In addition to the devastating human cost of violence against women and girls, the economic costs are also high, with increased burdens to health care, social services, and policing.

Decades of activism and mobilisation by women's movements have put ending violence against women and girls high on national and international agendas. Pacific governments are exercising their political will to end violence against women as they work towards advancing national legislation, policies and action plans. In 2012, Pacific Islands Forum leaders signed the Gender Equality Declaration that condemns violence and commits to ensuring access to essential services for survivors.

Communities in the Pacific region are beginning to break the silence and speak out against violence: work on violence prevention by national governments and civil society organisations is gaining momentum.

Our Solutions

In the Pacific, the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) Ending Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG) programme has a holistic approach which centres on three key pillars:

  • Supporting Pacific governments to adopt and implement laws and policies that address VAWG and overall gender discrimination and inequality.
  • Preventing violence by addressing the main drivers of VAWG by transforming social norms, practices and behaviours that tolerate and condone violence against women and girls.
  • Enhancing access to quality, coordinated and survivor centred essential services — social services, health, police and justice - to address immediate needs and prevent violence from re-occurring.

Central to the programme is the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (PacPartnership to EVAWG) which brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls, and increase access to quality response services for survivors. The EUR19.5million programme is funded primarily by the European Union with targeted support from the Australian Government and cost-sharing from UN Women.

The programme has three outcome areas being jointly coordinated by the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women Fiji MCO - also leading overall programme coordination.

UN Women implements the second of the three programme outcomes, aiming to promote gender equitable social norms at individual and community levels to prevent violence against women and girls, and to ensure survivors have access to quality response services.