National Gender Equality Policy 2015-2019 Reviewed

Participants at the National Gender Equality Policy review workshop.

The joint review of the National Gender Equality Policy 2015-2019 and 6{sup}th {/sup}Report on the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) commenced this week in the provinces of MALAMPA, SANMA, PENAMA and TORBA.

The review includes consultations with the community, government, NGOs, CSOs and the private sector in all six provinces and the national level with teams of government and NGO partners travelling to outer islands to hear about progress and priority needs across the country.

The theme of the review is ‘Yumi wok tugeta blong buildim hapi famili, strong komuniti mo resilient Vanuatu’ (Working together to build happy families, strong communities and a resilient Vanuatu).

The review will capture the perspectives of women, men, girls and boys.

The review will include assessment of progress across all strategic areas in the current National Gender Equality Policy (NGEP) including: 1) Reducing Domestic and Gender Based Violence, 2) Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment, 3) Promoting Women’s Leadership and Equal Political Participation and 4) Building a Foundation for Gender Mainstreaming. Aligning with national, regional and international commitments, a significant gap that has been highlighted in the current NGEP is resilience.

A key focus of this review is identifying the priority areas for gender equality and climate change, disaster risk reduction, response and recovery.

Vanuatu is amongst the world’s most at risk countries to natural disasters and the reality is that the country has high rates of gender based violence and have had no women in parliament and ministerial level positions in the last eight years.

Stakeholders across sectors have been advocating that it is time for them to take action and the review will result in the development of a National Gender Equality Policy for 2020-2024 and the 6th CEDAW Report for submission to the UN CEDAW Committee in 2020.

New Zealand supports the Department of Women’s Affairs (DoWA) in promoting the role of women and girls in society through initiatives such as the National Gender Equality Policy workshop.

The Director General of Justice, Dorosday Kenneth said this consultation is to review the progress made to date in advancement of women and girls in Vanuatu.

DG Kenneth said they are committed to ending violence against women and girls in all forms and meeting the requirements of CEDAW. To achieve this a whole of government approach is required.

The next CEDAW periodic report will take place next year. This consultation is very important as it brings together both women and men to understand the progress of women over the last five years and what they want to see in the next five years ahead.

DG Kenneth said CEDAW refers to the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. It is a form of law which focuses on all discrimination whether it may be direct or indirect, CEDAW seeks to address such matters, more importantly to address women empowerment as well in a society. It assists women to be aware of their own rights as well as expressing their voices as well.

The DG mentioned the CEDAW framework enables women to voice their concerns and be part of the opportunities offered in the different walks of life in the society.

She said the last CEDAW report was submitted in 2016, in Geneva and the next report will be presented in October 2020. The reports are submitted every four years.

DG Kenneth also voiced concerns regarding domestic violence.

Some of the things discussed in the consultation workshop were the reflections of the formatted ways under the gender equality. She also mentioned that they discussed ways for Institutions in allowing women equality and the sixth CEDAW report.

Mrs Kenneth acknowledged the Government’s involvement in seeing the advancement of a lot of ni-Vanuatu women representations within the different institutions in the country and it is only in Parliament that there has been no woman representative in the last two legislatures.

“The next step is a validation,” she said. “We will put together all discussions attained in the last two days as a recommendation for the next five years. We will put them together in a report and have the final validation workshop on the 22nd of November.”

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