TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS:
SIGATOKA, Fiji—Violence against women is an issue that cuts across all areas of development and unless it is effectively addressed, ambitious frameworks such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be difficult to achieve for Pacific countries.
This was the message on Saturday at a meeting of Pacific practitioners in eliminating violence against women by UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Osnat Lubrani at the Warwick Resort in Sigatoka.
In her keynote address to the seventh quadrennial meeting of the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW), Ms Lubrani spoke of how achievement of the SDGs are intimately linked with the ability to bring down the high prevalence of violence against women in the Pacific.
Lubrani spoke of the consultations the UNDP is carrying out in the Pacific to help countries advance the SDGs agenda in line with their own national development priorities.
“In each and every of these consultations, the issue of violence against women comes up and it doesn’t come up just when we discuss goal five of gender equality. It comes up in each and every area,” Lubrani said.
“One of the phrases that has accompanied the adoption of this agenda is ‘leave no one behind. It’s a very powerful phrase but when you think about it, it is not easy to achieve because these are people who don’t have a voice, they cannot find us so it’s for us to go out and find those left behind, bring them and lift them into the agenda.”
The SDGs are an intergovernmental set of 17 aspiration goals adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
The 17 goals include gender equality, reduced inequalities, and the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.
Shamima Ali, the coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre which administers the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women, said: “Often we work with violence against women in a void and not make the linkages. And those of us who work in this area know that violence against women underpins all the issues out there.”
Seema Naidu, the gender officer of that the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), relating the Pacific context of SDGs, said ending violence against women remained a commitment of Forum leaders through the Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality declaration.
“Reporting and strong accountability systems on eliminating violence against women has been promoted through the Forum statements at the Commission on the Status of Women,” Naidu said.
Abigail Erikson, the Ending Violence Against Women Programme Specialist at UN Women in Suva explained that SDGs were significant because they contained a specific commitment to gender equality.
“To have violence and the centrality of violence focused on within these Sustainable Development Goals is important because violence often gets swept under the rug in some of these big commitments and there are broad statements about equality, focusing on economic independence or access to education, but this also brings violence out and I think that matters for us in this time and place,”Erikson said.
The 7th Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women Meeting continues until Friday, Aug. 18, at the Warwick Resort.