Time to empower Pacific women is now

On the eve of International Women’s Day, World Vision Australia has called on the Australian Government to detail how it plans to spend $320 million earmarked for empowering women across the Pacific region.

As Australia’s Minister for the Status of Women Julie Collins visited the United Nations to reiterate the Government’s commitment to international efforts to empower women and girls, the time has come to act on this commitment in our own region.

“World Vision Australia welcomes Ms Collins’ strong support for increased economic and political participation for women in the Pacific,” World Vision’s gender adviser Michelle Lokot said.

“But there should be no more time wasted in addressing the needs of women in Pacific Island nations: so that they can have a greater say in their future, participate in public life and be free from the fear of violence.”

At the Pacific Islands Forum in August, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced $320 million in funding over 10 years for the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program. However, the money has yet to be allocated to specific projects on the ground.

The program aims to address gender inequality and reduce gender-based violence through supporting female MPs and candidates, improved safety for female vendors in markets and villages, and expanding services for survivors of violence.

“Through World Vision Australia’s work in the Pacific region we know there is enormous potential to improve the lives of women and their communities through expanded economic and leadership opportunities. World Vision has been working to prevent and respond to high rates of domestic violence in countries like the Solomon Islands, and we know that more investment will bring significant changes for women,” Ms Lokot said.

“The sooner this $320 million is earmarked for specific projects, the brighter the future is for women across the Pacific region.

“International Women’s Day provides a chance to reflect on how to help women across the world who face huge challenges. Empowering women economically leads to major gains in health and community well-being. The evidence is clear – now it’s time to act.”

Media contact: Kris Gough – 0481 005 468 /kris.gough@worldvision.com.au

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