SUMMIT TO STRENGTHEN MECHANISMS FOR PROTECTION OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN

The Women?s and Children?s summit organised by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation will begin this week on the 6th?to 8th?of August at Studios 6 in Suva.

The summit is first event designed to bring together 182 advocates of violence free champions in Fiji to strengthen network and mechanisms for protection of women and children.

The theme for the three days summit is ?Towards a future free from Violence, Abuse & Exploitation of Women and Children,??it will look at developing an action plan as the way forward in strengthening the roles of the violence free advocates. The participants comprise of the gatekeepers of the communities of the Zero Tolerance Violence Free Community Campaign and also the Community Facilitators for child protection community programs.

The campaign is collaboratively implemented by the Ministry and Fiji Police. To date total of 90 communities in Fiji have joined this campaign and have formed a gatekeepers committee that is led by the male leaders (village heads, church leaders, women and youth leaders, police officers, women officers, social welfare officers, medical officers to name a few). ?These committees are specifically trained and entrusted by their communities to protect the women and children and to stop violence.

The Minister Dr Jiko Luveni says this summit will be informative and interactive enabling the advocates to draw up a holistic development plan to strengthen their roles.

?The summit will provide opportunities for the gatekeepers and community facilitators to get as much information on the existing legislations and its application on gender based violence and child abuse cases. It will also assist them enhance the role towards creating a safer community for all and to develop a work plan for championing elimination of violence, abuse and exploitation of women and children. It will also enable the advocates to establish a wider community network of gatekeepers and community facilitators in Fiji.

?This would be the first time for the gatekeepers to come together identify the gaps and strategies to strengthen the violence free campaign. They will be able to reflect on the challenges they face and ways it can be addressed by sharing ideas and to effectively carry out their roles as champions of violence free communities,? Dr Luveni explained.

The summit will feature notable thematic speakers on the following human rights instruments:

(1) The Roadmap for Democracy, Sustainable Socio-Economic Development [RDSSED] (2011 to 2015)

(2) The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women [CEDAW] ? ratified by Fiji in 1995; and the

(3) Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC]

MINFO