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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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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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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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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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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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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.
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On International Day for Disaster Reduction, 13 October, UN Women spotlights women’s rights and potential for building more disaster resilient communities and nations.
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Costa Rica hosted a regional consultation of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment on 14 July. The consultation was jointly supported by UN Women and the National Institute of Women (INAMU) of Costa Rica.
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The strongest cyclone ever to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere, Cyclone Winston ravaged Fiji on 20 February 2016, destroying crops and critical infrastructure and flattening villages. In its wake, UN Women has been providing funds and technical support to local women and organizations as they work to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, help them access essential information about relief and protection services, and rebuild the marketplaces that provided women and their families with a secure food supply.
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Aleta Miller is the Representative for UN Women’s Fiji Multi-country Office. A Clinical Psychologist with a Master’s degree in International Public Health, she has worked for the UN, national governments and NGOs across Asia, the Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She reflects on UN Women’s coordination role in the response to Cyclone Winston, using protection to drive gender equality and address vulnerability.
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The loss of crops in floods caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston has undermined the livelihood of the family who grows it, but also that of market vendors and countless customers who relied on this produce each day.
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As part of our editorial series titled "A day in the life of...", Ellie van Baaren, regional communications and media specialist for UN Women’s Fiji Multi-Country Office, provides a glimpse into her work in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston.