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Gender and human rights review is underway in Vanuatu

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This week Vanuatu is undergoing its first Pacific Islands Forum’s gender and human rights review of its policies and programs. European Union is assisting with this initiative.

Financing for gender equality is essential for sustainable development and the peer review team will work with government departments to identify opportunities for gender responsive budgeting. According to Pacific Islands Forum’s representatives, the Government of Vanuatu welcomes the review as it will strengthen current work mandated by ministers.

“With these efforts and commitments, the Council of Ministers decision number 94 of 2017 mandated the Ministry of Climate Change, Education, Land, Agriculture and Local Authorities to incorporate Gender Responsive Budgeting in their budgets for 2018 and other Ministries will follow suit in the 2019 budget,” said John Ezra, Senior Policy Analyst with Vanuatu’s Department of Strategy, Policy, Planning & Aid Coordination.

The review team comprises Ma’u ‘Alipate Leha, Government of Tonga Principal Economist, Branessa Tsiode, Social Sector Planner with Nauru’s Ministry of Finance and Sustainable Development, and William Nainima, a lawyer with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre.

The review is supported by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, funded through the European Union’s 10th European Development Fund and informs an important body of work under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the Forum Compact which champions strengthened governance and promotes human rights and gender equality as core values and primary objectives.

Ms Shamima Ali of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre welcomed the opportunity for the Centre to be part of the Peer Review as it ensures that the voice of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our communities are captured in national development policies and plans and prioritized through the provision of budgets and resources.

“The best results can be obtained by partnerships between civil society organisation’s and government. A good example is our recent partnership with the Fiji Government to establish and implement of a National Toll Free Domestic Violence Helpline. This was fully funded by government and will be operated by the Crisis Centre.”

The review will examine successful practices, challenges and solutions for integrating gender equality and human rights commitments into national development and sector plans, planning processes and budget cycles. It comes a week after a similar exercise took place in Nauru and is a part of the very first human rights and gender peer review to take place in the Pacific.

”The EU is very proud to support this peer review exercise. This is an important undertaking, which will allow Vanuatu and other Pacific Island countries to take stock of their human rights and gender equality commitments. The EU looks forward to the recommendations and the implementation of it into national development plans,” said the Deputy Head of Delegation for the European Union for the Pacific, Corrado Pampaloni.

“Gender equality is at the core of European values and enshrined in the EU political and legal framework. The EU’s strategy and action plan to promote Gender equality and women’s empowerment aims at changing the lives of girls and women by focusing on girls and women’s physical integrity, promoting their economic and social rights and their empowerment and strengthening their voice and participation.”

As part of the review, a workshop on assessing human rights and gender equality commitments in national and sector plans and budgets was held with key government sectors on Tuesday, August 1. The third Peer Review will be held in Palau from 8-14 August 2017.

For more info read the latest printed issue of Vila Times.