The European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (P.I.F.S.) signed a funding agreement of 13 million euros to address the root causes of gender inequality and violence against women and girls in the Pacific.
The signing ceremony was held at the P.I.F.S. Media Center at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel where the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting is taking place.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, said the signing is significant.
“Recognising the high levels of violence against women in our region, this assistance is timely and will effectively assist the region in concretely addressing this issue,” she said.
“It is now five years since our Leaders adopted the Gender Equality Declaration in the Cook Islands. The Declaration highlighted, amongst other things, the importance of implementing progressive and holistic packages of essential services for women and girls who are survivors of violence.
“Furthermore, the Declaration encourages the development of legislation for violence against women across the region.”
She said with this funding, the European Union recognises the importance of addressing gender inequality and violence against women. “Violence against women is a complex and multi-dimensional issue.
“It requires support from civil society, faith based groups, the private sector, government and development partners – we all have an important part to play.” According to Taylor the support for the Pacific women will build on and strengthen our region’s common commitment to ending violence against women.”
According to press statement, “Australia will provide an additional EUR 5 million (AUD 6.5 million) to this program, which will further strengthen the EU-Australia cooperation to support Pacific responses to gender inequality in the region.
“The program will support activities at the regional level as well as in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
“Ambassador Jacobs reaffirmed the role of the EU as a reliable partner of the Pacific and highlighted its commitment to jointly tackling gender inequality in the Pacific region.
''The EU is committed to working alongside its partners in the Pacific region to improve gender equality.
“Pacific leaders have acknowledged that gender inequality is imposing a high personal, social and economic cost - the time to act is now! Together, we must work to enhance awareness and practice of respectful relationships, ensure equal opportunities in life for women, men, girls and boys, and increase access to relevant services for women and girls who have suffered violence,'' said Ambassador Jacobs.