Fiji Parliamentarians urged to lead on ending violence against wome


Caption: Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni, UN Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani and Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar.Photo:SUPPLIED.

Fiji parliamentarians were urged to take the lead when it comes to ending violence against women during an event at parliament in Suva on Wednesday December 3 as the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence continues.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator Osnat Lubrani addressed around 40 parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, civil society representatives and UN agency representatives recognising the progress that has been made while also reiterating the extent of violence against women and girls in Fiji and emphasising the important role that parliamentarians can play in eliminating it.

Ms Lubrani made specific mention of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services i-care campaign, supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children, which is led by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

“There have been successful actions and lives saved but we must redouble our efforts because the situation is still terrible … UN agencies are a resource of global expertise on what has worked in other countries and stand ready to support Fiji. We are with you on the work ahead.”

In her introduction, Fiji’s first female Speaker of Parliament, Dr Jiko Luveni pointed out that ending violence against women and children depends on ensuring that the laws already in place are effective, something that is part of the role of Parliament.

“Ending gender violence will also depend on strong community and national leadership,” Dr Luveni said. “Parliamentarians have been elected by the people as our national leaders. Your role is therefore crucial.”

A study released in 2013 by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre in cooperation with the Fiji Islands Bureau of Statistics showed that 72% of women aged 15-49 had experienced some form of physical, sexual or emotional violence from a husband or partner. This is more than double the global average but in line with other countries in the Pacific region.

Nicolas Burniat, UN Women’s Deputy Representative and Officer in Charge at the Fiji Multi-Country Office, says it was encouraging to see so many parliamentarians attending the event.

“In recent years Fiji has made a lot of progress in adopting important legislation and signing on to international commitments around violence against women. The important thing now is to focus on implementation and that relies on the actions of parliamentarians.”

The 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence is a global initiative and runs from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, which is also International Human Rights Day.


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