vanuatu-gender-protection-clusterThree representatives from the Vanuatu’s Gender and Protection Cluster are set to take part in a regional learning tour to share how Vanuatu has increased women and girls’ participation in emergency preparedness and response efforts and to learn from other neighbours.

Beginning on the 3rd of October in the Solomon Islands, the group will then travel on to Papua New Guinea.

Vanuatu’s Gender and Protection Cluster is a group made up of government and civil society organisations who focus efforts to protect the livelihoods and safety of the most vulnerable in the face of disasters. The cluster is led by the Department of Women’s Affairs, with CARE Vanuatu and Save the Children in Vanuatu as co leads.

The cluster has clear objectives: to increase knowledge about gender and protection in emergencies; improve support for women, children and vulnerable people when a disaster strikes across all humanitarian responders and clusters; and to coordinate actions to support the most vulnerable when protection risks are identified.

During emergencies and disaster responses like the Ambae evacuation, the cluster is activated to lead action to address gender and protection related issues, focussing on the needs of vulnerable groups including women, people with disability and children. Since 2017, CARE Vanuatu and Save the Children, in partnership with the Department of Women’s Affairs and UN Women have delivered the “Increasing women and girls voice in the humanitarian sector: The localisation of the Vanuatu Gender & Protection Cluster” project funded by UN Women.

The project works with national, provincial and local civil society organisations including Community Disaster and Climate Change Committee members and School Disaster Committee members, especially with women members of committees to strengthen women’s ability to participate in and lead humanitarian response work. It also works with Ni-Vanuatu civil society organisations focussed on gender and protection to strengthen their capacity to deliver emergency responses as part of the gender and protection cluster. With the ongoing emergency responses in Vanuatu in recent years, the Gender and Protection Cluster in Vanuatu has gained a lot of experience, and has learned a great many lessons about mainstreaming gender and protection in emergency responses.

Given this strong learning, the cluster decided to take a delegation to share these learnings to other Pacific countries. The delegation representing Vanuatu includes Jocelyn Loughman from the Ministry of Justice and Community Services; Program Manager for Vanuatu Society for People with Disability, Judith Iakavai; and CARE Vanuatu’s National Gender Coordination and Capacity Building Project Manager, Brigitte Laboukly Lang. The group plan to share best practice and learnings of the Vanuatu Gender and Protection Cluster with the National Disaster Management Offices, Civil Society Organisations and any existing Gender and Protection Cluster partners in other countries. The group will also use the opportunity to learn what progress other countries and clusters have made in mainstreaming gender and protection in all emergency responses.

“Vanuatu’s Gender and Protection Cluster have had a lot of achievements and challenges in the past,” says Save the Children’s Country Director, Ms Georgia Tacey. “It’s good to visit other Melanesian countries and learn from their approaches and efforts to localise gender and protection responses.”

“There are a lot of ways to localise gender and protection cluster in different countries,” adds Ms Laboukly Lang. “But coming together, sharing our ideas and discussing a way forward, seems to be a significant starting point for regional partners in the Pacific.”