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In the Pacific region, as in other parts of the world, women are spearheading climate adaptation and mitigation strategies — something Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, a second-generation Pacific Fijian feminist has championed throughout her three-decade journey in the women’s rights movement.
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Gender-based violence crisis centres from six countries in the Pacific have faced not only the COVID-19 crisis, but also in some countries, the dual impact of a tropical cyclone. UN Women’s Ending Violence Against Women and Girls programme, through the Pacific Partnership, works in close collaboration with government, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls, and increase access to quality response services for survivors, especially during emergencies.
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Ryancia Henry is originally from Antigua and Barbuda, she moved four months ago to Montecito, California, to take up the position of Director of Housekeeping, managing a team of 60 people, at a hotel that has now closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. With international travel disrupted, and movement restrictions within the United States of America, Ryancia is among millions of workers in the hospitality industry considering what the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on her, her staff, her family and her friends.
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Neli Nabogi, 34, grew up in a family where girls were expected to listen and not speak. As a result, she lacked confidence as a young woman. That, and so much more, has changed since she was selected to become a rugby coach for the new Get Into Rugby PLUS programme. The programme is empowering coaches and adolescent players, who learn rugby and life skills.
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A new sport programme in Fiji is breaking gender stereotypes among students and coaches alike, as both male and female school teachers get trained as coaches.
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During a four-country visit in the Caribbean region from 18 to 23 May, the UN Women Executive Board discussed measures to improve court processes to assist survivors of gender-based violence; observed initiatives at work to identify and mitigate the gendered risks of natural disasters; and emphasized their support towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
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Ruth Spencer, GEF/SGP National Coordinator from Antigua connects with people everywhere she goes—in the market, in church, at the parking lot or in the halls of the United Nations. She builds networks and capacity of local community groups through education, training, resource mobilization and partnership-building, especially for climate action. Recently, she has set up a network of local groups and individuals in the island of Antigua and Barbados to promote sustainable waste management. As a participant in a workshop on gender-responsive global biodiversity framework, she spoke to UN Women about women’s conservation efforts.
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From marketplaces in the Pacific to parks in eastern Europe, women are rising up and demanding safety, respect and inclusion in public spaces, and coming together to make it happen. Through community efforts, UN Women is working around the world to help women claim their space.
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Captain Anaseini Navua Vuniwaqa of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, participated in the ninth edition of the Female Military Officers’ Course in April 2018. The course aims to bridge the gender gap in UN peacekeeping. Women currently represent only 4 per cent of the more than 80,000 UN Peacekeepers, despite their key role in preventing sexual violence during and after conflict, and their unique abilities to engage with the communities they serve, especially women and girls. Captain Vuniwaqa spoke to UN Women about women’s role in preventing sexual violence during and after conflict, and their unique abilities to engage with the communities they serve.
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Hosted by the UN Women National Committee Australia, the annual meeting brought together staff from UN Women Headquarters, UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office and National Committees around the world in Fiji for a week.
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Nearly a year ago, catastrophic hurricanes devastated the Caribbean. After Hurricane Irma, almost the entire population of Barbuda, a small island in the eastern Caribbean, was driven to its twin island of Antigua. In Dominica, Hurricane Maria wiped out crops, equipment and infrastructure. In efforts to ensure that women both benefit from, and lend their expertise to the humanitarian response in the Caribbean, UN Women has been working with partners in the immediate aftermath of the storms and beyond.
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The Female Military Officers’ Course (FMOC), which aims to bridge the gender gap in UN peacekeeping, is a two-week course organized by UN Women and partners, provides specialized training for female military officers around the world to create a global network of trained women peacekeepers.
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This International Women's Day, a new EUR18.2 million regional programme to improve gender equality and address violence against women and girls is being announced.
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Rugby — traditionally a male dominated sport—is starting to make strides in the Pacific towards gender equality, with a record number of women’s teams taking their talents to the field and joining the rugby workforce.
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As the hurricane season ends in the Caribbean, and three months since Hurricane Irma caused the entire island of Barbuda to evacuate, Farmala Jacobs, Acting Executive Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda says the devastating hurricanes across the Caribbean this year show that we can no longer afford to leave anyone behind, and most certainly not women and girls.
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In February 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji, showing the heightened vulnerability of people living in the Pacific Islands, where climate change has led to a series of increasingly severe cyclones in the recent years. With farms, markets, including the Rakiraki Market and its accommodation centre for rural women destroyed, livelihoods of market vendors such as Varanisese Maisamoa were compromised. But today, through UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project, Maisamoa, aged 39 years, has not only got back on her feet, she has also become a strong leader in her community. As leader of Rakiraki’s women’s group, and now, as the President of the Rakiraki Market Vendors Association, her insights were critical in helping UN Women adapt its existing M4C project to provide humanitarian support to market vendors impacted by the cyclone. Rakiraki Market’s reconstruction is currently underway, featuring Category-5 cyclone resilient infrastructure, a rain water harvesting system, flood resistant drainage, and a gender-responsive design. The Markets for Change project is principally funded by the Australian Government and implemented in partnership with UNDP.
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Shamima Ali is a feminist activist from Fiji. She is the chairperson and one of the founding members of the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women. She has been a Coordinator at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre for the past 31 years. Ms. Ali has also served as a Human Rights Commissioner in Fiji from 2004 to 2006. Her work has included developing and conducting training with police and other service-providers in Fiji and in the Pacific region.
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For the past 35 years, Shobhna Verma has made her living selling produce at Suva Market in Fiji’s capital. Today, Shobhna is the Legal Advisor with the Suva United Market Vendors Association in Fiji and has attended a series of trainings starting in 2005, on financial literacy, organizing, leadership, first aid, and disaster risk resilience, as part of UN Women’s Markets for Change project (M4C).
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UN Women and UNFPA fast track funds to Antigua and Barbuda to help women and girls
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As the Pacific braces itself for another cyclone season, UN Women is leading efforts to ensure that women and girls are at the centre of disaster preparedness, response and recovery work.