Spotlight Initiative to Tackle Gender-Based Violence in Pacific Islands

7 March 2019
Dr. Natalia Kanem represented the United Nations at a high-level Spotlight Initiative event in Samoa. © UNFPA Pacific/Navinesh Kumar
Dr. Natalia Kanem represented the United Nations at a high-level Spotlight Initiative event in Samoa. © UNFPA Pacific/Navinesh Kumar

The European Union is allocating €50 million to eliminate gender-based violence in the Pacific Islands, leaders announced at a high level Spotlight Initiative event in Samoa last week.  

The Spotlight Initiative is a major global collaboration to end all forms of violence against women and girls, supported by the EU and implemented by UN agencies and partners.

Countries in the Pacific Region will be critical partners in the effort to end gender-based violence. 

“The Pacific region has the highest recorded rates of violence against women and girls in the world,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, the UNFPA Executive Director, who represented the UN at the event. 

“Seven countries in the region have prevalence rates above 50 per cent. Women’s lifetime experience of violence, including sexual violence in the Pacific, ranges from 25 per cent to as high as 68 per cent.”

The initiative will be a game changer, working at all levels to end violence, said high-level participants at the event. It will engage governments, civil society, community members, and men and boys. 

Consultations will be held with leaders in the Pacific to ensure that programmes accurately reflect the unique needs of the region.

“It’s time to focus on action, and that is why this Spotlight event and initiative is timely,” said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi. 

Violence against women and girls is a global phenomenon, Commissioner of the EU Neven Mimica, emphasized at the event. The first step is to change is breaking the silence.