By Akiko Suzaki, Country Manager, UNDP in Solomon Islands
Honourable Jimson Tanangada, Minister of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs
Hon. Ishmael Avui, Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs
Hon. Peter Shanel Agovaka, Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services
Dr. Tenneth Dalipanda, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Medical Services
Mrs Ethel Sigimanu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs
Mr. Freddy Maesa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs
Mr. Edomond Sikua, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services
Distinguished representatives from Government Ministries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to warmly welcome all of you on behalf of UN Local Team in Solomon Islands to the official launch of the “Keeping the Promise in Solomon Islands: From Policy to Action”, which is a joint initiative to be implemented by UN Women and UNFPA and Solomon Islands Government in partnership with UNDP, WHO, UNICEF and ILO and other stakeholders. This joint initiative is activated by financial support extended by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women in New York.
All around the world, each year International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. In Solomon Islands, women and girls, and men and boys celebrated the International Women’s Day to acknowledge the achievements of women while calling for greater equality and challenges ahead.
Twenty years ago, the world convened a landmark conference on women’s human rights. Since the adaption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, there have been significant advances. For example, more girls have greater access to education ever before, the number of women dying in childbirth has been almost halved; and more women are taking on readership roles. Progress over the past two decades has proven the enduring value of the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women. Yet, we have a long way to go to achieve full equality, especially eliminating Violence against Women and Girls.
Violence against women and girls is widespread and pervasive. Solomon Islands has one of the highest prevalence rates of violence against women and girls in the world. Thanks to continuous efforts in advocacy by the Solomon Islands Government and its civil society as well as development partners, the environment for eliminating violence against women and girls shows improvement in recent years. Yet, national consultation with support from UN agencies held in the last few years identified the critical need to strengthen key sectors in involving in Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls, to support development of coordination and referral mechanisms, and to focus on building on effective-multi sectoral response to violence against women and girls. These consultations highlighted that despite gains in national policies and legislative reforms, challenges have hampered action, and implementation of accountability mechanisms for the policies remains a challenge. Building on the Solomon Island Government’s commitment to address this issue, the UN agencies established a Joint Programme entitled “Solomon Islands Joint Programme on Eliminating Violence against Women and Girls -Keeping the Promise in the Solomon Islands: From Policy to Action”.
The goal of this project is that women and girls who experience domestic/or sexual violence will have greater support for their rights and access to protection and assistance from the Solomon Islands Government and its partners in civil society.
This initiative is special for a number of reasons, but I would like to share with three key points:
Firstly, the joint programme will support the implementation of a whole-of-government approach to Eliminating violence against women and girls and to better connect government and Civil Society Organisation programming and service provision to survivors of Violence against women and girls through the following – strengthening systems, creating integrated system and building evidence-based programming. Not only strengthening system of the health, legal, police and social welfare, but integrate these systems to ensure that multi-sectoral service delivery, moving beyond vertical sectoral programmes, which focus only one sector. This programme also aims at improving national and provincial coordination of an effective, evidence-based and multispectral response.
The problem of violence against women and girls is complex. Such a complex issue demands an integrated and systematic approach. Establishing the integrated system is not about replacing what already occurs, or taking random remedial actions. The approach builds on what works, incorporating the existing networks, agencies and multi-agency processes, filling up gaps and removing overlaps and inconsistencies. The integrate system also provides the infrastructure and the process to link and support all parts of the system to work together. That is why the Joint Programme on eliminating violence against women and girl will present opportunities to deliver concrete results and a lasting change in the protection of women and children from gender based violence.
Coordinated approaches and integrated systems are essential to build a network of care that presents women and children from falling through the cracks. There is a need for robust evidence to underpin service and policy planning, and this system strengthening and integration will be informed by robust evidence.
Secondly, the programme will work in accordance with the Aid Effectiveness principle. The design of the initiative has been led and owned by the Solomon Islands Government under the leadership of the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Through this initiative, the UN is demonstrating its commitment to aligning its development support in this domain to the priorities of the Solomon Islands Government.
Thirdly, this is a programme brings together a number of UN agencies as one and delivering results together. Six UN agencies are committed to this programme, namely UN Women, UNPFA, UNICEF, WHO and ILO to provide technical inputs in partnership with other key stakeholders. Furthermore, UNDP joins this programme as Administrative Agent. This is a strategic collaboration between UN agencies and the government that seeks to ensure coherence across each agency’s mandate and comparative advantage.
By working together we can make great strides toward achieving our shared goal of a Solomon Islands in which all women and girls live free from violence. In this connection, I thank you once again for your strong commitment to the elimination of violence against women and girls in Solomon Islands. With the partnership with each one of you, and I am confident that the critical goal envisaged in this programme will be fully attained in the years to come.
Thank you very much.