The joint review of the National Gender Equality Policy 2015-2019 and 6th Report on the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) commenced this week in MALAMPA, SANMA, PENAMA and Torres.

The review includes consultations with the community, government, NGOs, CSOs and the private sector in all six provinces and the national level with teams of government and NGO partners travelling to outer islands to hear about progress and priority needs across the country.

This week, the teams have been working in Ambrym, Malekula, Ambae, Maewo, Santo, Malo, Loh, Tegua, Toka and Sola.

The theme of the review is ‘Yumi wok tugeta blong buildim hapi famili, strong komuniti mo resilient Vanuatu’ (Working together to build happy families, strong communities and a resilient Vanuatu), and the perspectives of men, women, girls and boys will be captured to inform planning.

“This review is landmark for Vanuatu and the support of the Prime Minister’s Office who will be participating in the field and national level consultations has been essential for planning,” said Dorosday Kenneth Watson, Director General of the Ministry of Justice and Community Services.

We have made many gains in gender equality in Vanuatu in the past five years but we still have some way to go to achieve this.

“We are committed to ending violence against women and girls in all forms and meeting the requirements of CEDAW and to achieve this a whole of government approach is required”, added John Ezra, Acting Principal Policy Analyst in the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning and Aid Coordination under the Ministry of Prime Minister.

The review will include assessment of progress across all strategic areas in the current National Gender Equality Policy (NGEP) including: 1) Reducing Domestic and Gender Based Violence, 2) Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment, 3) Promoting Women’s Leadership and Equal Political Participation and 4) Building a Foundation for Gender Mainstreaming. Aligning with national, regional and international commitments, a significant gap that has been highlighted in the current NGEP is resilience.

A key focus of this review is identifying the priority areas for gender equality and climate change, disaster risk reduction, response and recovery.

Vanuatu is amongst the world’s most at risk countries to natural disasters and the reality is that we have high rates of gender based violence and we have had no women in parliament and ministerial level positions in the last eight years.

Stakeholders across sectors have been advocating that it is time for us to take action and the review will result in the development of a National Gender Equality Policy for 2020-2024 and the 6th CEDAW Report for submission to the UN CEDAW Committee in 2020.

The policy documents will also include implementation and monitoring frameworks that align with the National Sustainable Development Plan to achieve a stable, sustainable and prosperous Vanuatu.

The Department of Women’s Affairs is leading the joint review and Director Rothina Ilo Noka commented, “I would like to thank the Vanuatu Government, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, UN Women and all partners for their support.

“This review is a significant opportunity to further understand the needs of the community, align with decentralization plans and ensure that the work of all sectors is gender responsive over the next five years”.