Regional Network to Improve Gender and Protection in the Pacific

Nov 27, 2015

Recognising the need to advance gender and protection issues during times of disasters made worse by climate change impacts, a network comprising of government officials from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu has been set up to provide a platform to share information, experiences and best practices. 

Referred to as the ProPa Network, which coins two words, Protection and Pacific, it aims to raise awareness on the range of issues related to the cross cutting theme and to better address these issues before, during and after a disaster.

Protection, in a humanitarian context, is still a relatively new concept in Pacific Island countries says, Gender and Social Inclusion (GSI) Adviser to the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), Krissie Hayes. 

“The members of the Network recognises the need to further advance gender and protection issues during times of disasters in their countries and at the same time draw on experiences from their pacific islands neighbors,” she said.  

“There remains a limited and varied understanding about what constitutes gender and protection, and the vast range of issues that are covered by this cross-cutting theme even amongst gender and protection cluster leads themselves.” She added, “This gap in knowledge is not only identified in the country disaster management offices, but also amongst regional and international humanitarian actors. 

 “Through the ProPa Network, it will help facilitate gender and protection actors to share ideas, drive future developments and improvements in these fields,” Ms. Hayes said.   

At the national level, each of the members will be working at improving the various methods of data collection and information sharing to ensure needs based gender and protection programming, said Assistant Secretary of Local Government and Community Development and the Focal Point for the National Safety and Protection Cluster with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Samuela Pohiva. 

“Gender and protection priorities in the Pacific and at the national level is due to the reality that disasters make worse pre-existing issues”, Mr. Pohiva said. 

“Focus for data collection and analysis must therefore be during non-disaster periods.” 

 Drawing from the Vanuatu experience, the Economic Empowerment Officer for the Ministry of Justice and Community Services under the Department of Womens Affairs and also the gender and protection Cluster lead, Mr. Mark Esron, highlighted the importance of information sharing. 

“We’ve noticed that formats used for information gathering is quite complex and thus valuable information that should be captured by existing tools are missing,” he said. 

“Through this network, we will try and explore ways in which our other members have addressed this issue.”

“As a way forward we will also look at ways to facilitate better information sharing amongst all actors and work to review the existing knowledge management platforms which allows for less sophisticated inputs,” Mr. Esron said.   

The ProPa network was formed following a prepatory meeting between the representatives of the four countries prior to the Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (PHP) meeting that was held in Suva in October this year. The need for a Network was prioritised by the Government participants based on the discussions from the two day meet. 

The prepatory meeting was organised in partnership between UNWOMEN and the UNDP’s Pacific Risk Resilience Programme with support from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

While the ProPa Network is driven by the National Government’s representatives, these partners will be working together to fine tune the ProPa Network’s structure as well as extend learnings to other Pacific island countries that may be interested. 

PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to consider the risks they face from climate change and disasters and include those risks in their usual plans for development. Communities can become more resilient to climate change and disasters if routine government, community and other planning processes takes these risks into account. This risk governance approach is delivered through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and international non-government organization Live & Learn Environmental Education (LLEE), and supported by the Australian Government. PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Contact information

For more information, please contact: Jone Raqauqau, UNDP PRRP Communications Associate, tel: (679) 330 1976 or jone.raqauqau@undp.org  

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