An international effort to address gender violence in the Pacific Islands through film-making ended in Apia with partners calling for more collaboration and partnerships.
The University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom (U.K.), the PNG National Research Institute (N.R.I.) and National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) collaborated in a project titled ‘Exploring Participatory Film-Making as a Development Method to address Gender Inequality in the Pacific’.
It brought together researchers in anthropology, film studies and legal studies and led to the convening of a series of workshops and networking events in the U.K., European Union and the Pacific region. As part of the workshop the participants were shown short documentaries produced by film-makers from Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.), Tonga, Fiji and Samoa followed by discussions by participants.
Professor Fui Le’apai Tu’ua ‘Ilaoa Asofou So’o, the N.U.S. Vice Chancellor who gave the opening address at the seminar at the university, said the collaboration and the project is significant as its findings will be used to ‘shape’ the new European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative, which will open the door to EUR€50 million to support gender equality programs in the region.
“The EU has used their report in the design and justification for a new EUR€13 million regional development programme addressing violence against women and girls which will be funding some initiatives in Samoa. The EU are also using the team’s research report to shape the new EU-UN Spotlight Initiative which will bring EUR€50 million to support gender equality in the Pacific,” he said in his opening address at the seminar.
Dr Fiona Hukula, who represented the N.R.I. in the project team, said there was scope for further collaboration between the P.N.G. institution and regional partners such as the Centre for Samoan Studies at the N.U.S. in order to build on the success of the recently concluded project.
Working with limited resources is a major challenge for educational institutions in the Pacific Islands, but that obstacle can be overcome through inter-institutional partnerships according to Seiuli Vaifou Temese, the Head of the Centre for Samoan Studies.
“The Center for Samoan Studies and the National University of Samoa, we are really about collaboration. We all know that we work with limited resources and collaboration is a way to link with similar institutions like P.N.G. N.R.I.,” she told the Samoa Observer.
“I am really excited that through our relationship with Dr Fiona Hukula, we are looking at perhaps having a student exchange programme, perhaps some of the things that we are doing here in Samoa – say around temporary measures for women representation in parliament. That is something they are starting to have a look at.”
Commenting on some of the short documentaries that were shown during the various workshops that the project team convened in the different Pacific Island nations they visited, Seiuli said they saw a lot of value in the work that the various women crisis centres are doing in the region and partnering with them is a step in the right direction.