Speaker addresses UN on GBV in emergencies in Asia and the Pacific Region

The Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni addressed member states of the United Nations yesterday on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in emergencies in Asia and the Pacific Region.

Hon. Dr Luveni who was invited by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in her capacity as Fiji’s Speaker of Parliament said more needs to be done to address the issue of violence arising out of emergency situations.

In her statement at the United Nations Headquarters, the Hon. Speaker said the making of professional educational videos to empower and inform women and youth about Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) was critical as it had proven to be a popular and effective medium.

“The SRH specialised video should be taken by trained members of NGO’s to organize “Talanoa Session” in which trainer’s encourage a Questions and Answer (Q&A) session after viewing. The objective of the video program should be very clear and can be shown on TV.”

While referring to the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston, the Hon. Speaker said that such emergency situations had strong implications on GBV with the trend continuing.

“Fiji is made up of more than 115 inhabited islands and access to these islands is a huge challenge particularly in emergency situations where urgent humanitarian actions are needed. Food is obtained from plantations and the sea and cyclones destroy these resources and people could be left without food and water for days before assistance reaches them.”

As such, she says the frustration and stress is targeted at women, causing an increase in GBV during emergency situations.

Fiji is guided by the National Disaster Management Plan, which governs the functions of the National Disaster Management Council comprising Permanent Secretaries of relevant ministries.

Disaster plans produced by all other government agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) covering their areas of operation, are aligned to this framework.

The Act stipulates policies related to disaster preparedness, response, and recovery and in any case of emergency, the NDMO mobilises humanitarian effort across the country through the Commissioners and District Officers in close cooperation with non-government organisations, communities, villages and other relevant stakeholders.

The Hon. Speaker acknowledged the work of the UNFPA in the region particularly in supporting institutions that provided humanitarian action and family planning supplies.

“The UNFPA had established a relationship with the mid-wives associations in Fiji that became very useful when humanitarian action was needed for pregnant women in emergency situations,” she said.

Similarly, outreach programs supported by the UNFPA in partnership with government, were immediately mobilized to respond to emergency situations and took health services to targeted communities.

She emphasised that having a multi-sectoral approach in responding to disasters was important in that will inspire many to provide humanitarian assistance within the first hours of a cyclone change disasters.

The Hon. Speaker also reiterated the need for better coordination of support by UN agencies to women and children in emergencies.