The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Pacific Community (SPC) have made a joint submission to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the human rights of women and girls in the Pacific.  The submission offers recommendations on how the Australian government may support Pacific Island countries to respond more effectively to domestic, family and sexual violence, and other human rights issues such as gender equality.

The submission was informed by PIFS’s and SPC’s engagement with the Australian government’s aid program in the Pacific, as well as survey responses from Pacific governments and civil society organisations.

“Sustainable development and true progress for all Pacific people continues to be hampered by the high prevalence of violence against women and girls.   The  epidemic of violence within families has been deepened by COVID-19 disruption due to confinement and other restrictions, so the timing of this  Parliamentary Inquiry also provides an opportunity for our nations to refocus urgent efforts to ensure homes are truly valued by all families, as the safest place to be.” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.

“The Pacific Islands Forum envisions a region of peace, social inclusion, and prosperity, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and one Blue Pacific continent.  To achieve this, we need to break the cycle of violence and as one Blue Pacific continent remain committed and resolute to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.  We must do better to empower our women and girls from diverse Pacific backgrounds to realize their capacity, grow their confidence and recognize their human rights.”

SPC’s Director General, Dr Stuart Minchin, said “We still have work to do when it comes to improving the lives of women and girls in the Pacific. This inquiry by the Australian Parliament provides an opportunity to examine the impact of our efforts to reduce domestic, family and sexual violence, and to see how we can better focus on human rights issues such as gender equality.”

Dr Minchin thanked PIFS for collaborating with SPC on this joint submission and the Australian government for its commitment to improving the lives of women and girls in the Pacific, and looked forward to the outcome and recommendations of the Inquiry.

SPC’s contribution to this submission was co-authored by SPC’s human rights division, the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and its Social Development Programme (SDP).

Read more here: Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Human Rights of Women and Girls in the Pacific