Regional network to raise gender and protection issues in disaster contexts

May 3, 2016

National Government representatives at the meeting to form the ProPa network (Photo: UNDP/Jone Raqauqau)

Suva, Fiji:  A new network of Government officials commits to jointly influence national, regional and global discussions on gender and protection issues in the context of disasters.  

At a meeting convened in Suva in early April, representatives from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu discussed and agreed to further the aspirations for the formation of a regional support network of Government representatives to work on gender and protection issues. 

The ProPa network coins two words, Protection and Pacific and it aims to raise awareness and inform regional and global discussions on the range of issues related to the cross cutting theme and to better address these issues before, during and after a disaster. 

"As ProPa members, I see this as an opportunity for me to learn and share experiences with colleagues in other countries on the approaches they have taken to address barriers to furthering protection and gender mainstreaming," said Hugo Hebala, Under Secretary for Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs in Solomon Islands.

 "Through the ProPa network, we have created a safe open platform for us, as Government officials, to openly talk about issues that we consider to be sensitive in other forums", said Samuela Pohiva, Assistant Secretary of Local Government and Community Development and the Focal Point for the National Safety and Protection Cluster with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Tonga.

Rothina Ilo, the Gender and Social Inclusion (GSI) Officer for the Department of Women, Youths and Children and Family Affairs in Vanuatu echoed the sentiments of the other members and stated "the Network would provide space for its members to build self-confidence to effectively engage with different stakeholders."   

The network was formed following a preparatory meeting between the representatives of the countries prior to the Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (PHP) meeting that was held in Suva in October of last year. The need for a Network was prioritised by the Government representatives based on the discussions from the two day meet. 

"Protection in pacific is becoming more accepted in humanitarian contexts, however, the ProPa network seeks to strengthen protection and gender efforts throughout all phases of disaster including preparedness, response, recovery and building resilience” said Ravulo Naulumatua, the Gender and Social Inclusion (GSI) Senior Officer with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in Fiji. 

Mr. Naulumatua added, "The network will be able to provide an opportunity for us to share ideas, experiences and drive improvements in this field not just during disasters but also during peace time."

Part of the agenda for the meeting was the finalisation of the network’s terms of reference, which outlines membership criteria as well as the direction the network will take.

The three day meeting was organised through partnership between UNWOMEN and the UNDP’s Pacific Risk Resilience Programme with support from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

The ProPa Network is driven by the National Government’s representatives, and they will be working together to fine tune the ProPa Network’s structure as well as extend learnings to other Pacific island countries that may be interested. 

PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to consider the risks they face from climate change and disasters and include those risks in their usual plans for development. Communities can become more resilient to climate change and disasters if routine government, community and other planning processes takes these risks into account. 

This risk governance approach is delivered through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and international non-government organization Live & Learn Environmental Education (LLEE), and supported by the Australian Government. PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Contact information

Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Communications Associate, Pacific Risk Resilience Programme; tel: +679 322 7552; email: jone.raqauqau@undp.org

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