Photo: Deputy UN Women Representative Nicolas Burniat and SPC Officer in Charge Inoke Ratukalou formalising the MoU.
Wednesday 15 October 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – Suva, Fiji – UN Women and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) commemorated International Day of Rural Women with an event that showcased stories from rural women themselves and culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Through the MoU, UN Women and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) – European Union (ACP-EU)-funded SPC implemented“Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project” (BSRP) will work in collaboration to ensure the different needs, capacities, constraints and social roles of women and men are included in the design and implementation of the BSRP project activities. It is also aimed at strengthening the capacity of the 15 countries that the BSRP works in.
UN Women’s Deputy Representative for the Fiji Multi-Country Office, Nicolas Burniat, signed the MoU on behalf of UN Women and highlighted the importance of including women and girls to ensure the sustainability of climate change and disaster risk reduction strategies.
The ACP-EU SPC BSRP project aims to reduce the vulnerability, as well as the social, economic and environmental costs, of disasters caused by natural hazards in the Pacific.
Inoke Ratukalou, Director of Lands Resources Division and Officer in Charge at SPC, says the MoU will play a big part in ensuring gender mainstreaming across the project’s activities.
“By mainstreaming gender into our projects we can design activities and interventions that are more sustainable and meaningful by addressing the needs and capacities of everyone. It is hoped that this kind of partnership can be an example to us and the rest of the Pacific region of how mainstreaming gender can be a critical and effective exercise that benefits all of us.”
The MoU signing was part of a wider event commemorating International Day of Rural Women that illustrated the vital role Pacific women play in climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development in general. It was hosted by the ACP-EU SPC BSRP project, UN Women, GIZ, FemLINKPacific and Fiji’s Department for Women.
A number of rural women shared their experiences, challenges and successes in providing for their families and transforming their livelihoods; responding to and managing climate change and disaster risks; and their contributions to socio-economic development.
These women included a solar engineer from a village near Ba who has installed solar energy systems in all of her village’s 57 households and two fisherwomen from Toga, Rewa, who are part of the country’s largest freshwater fishery, which is also dominated by women.
The event also showcased the Pacific Gender and Climate Change Toolkit, which will be officially launched in November. The toolkit is a collaboration between SPC, UN Women, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), UNDP and GIZ, and provides tools to help project managers and those involved in project design to undertake gender analysis at different stages in the project cycle.
Mentioning the relatively poor record of Pacific countries when it comes to women’s rights, Mr Burniat says the toolkit and MoU are an opportunity to “change the script for women in the Pacific”.
“At the last climate change summit in New York, Pacific nations rallied behind the call of Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and demonstrated that they are a force and a voice to be reckoned with. They now have an opportunity to show the same leadership and lead the way in gender-responsive climate change and disaster risk reduction. We hope that with this MoU and in partnership with SPC we can help them heed that call.”
About UN Women and the Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was created at the July 2010 United Nations General Assembly. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The MCO covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works with four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women; Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific; and Increasing Community Resilience through Empowerment of Women to Address Climate Change and Natural Hazards Programme to progress with gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific.
About the ACP-EU SPC BSRP Project
The objective of the project is to reduce the vulnerability, as well as the social, economic and environmental costs of disasters caused by natural hazards, thereby achieving regional and national sustainable development and poverty reduction goals in ACP Pacific Island States (PICs). It is also to strengthen the capacity of PICs to address existing and emerging challenges with regards to the risks posed by natural hazards and related disasters, while maximising synergies between Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). The project is implemented in the 15 Pacific ACP States: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, with target groups being national governments, communities, civil society, utilities and the private sector.