PHOTO: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi speaking at the Spotlight Initiative launch as the UN Population Fund Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation & Development Neven Mimica look on.
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2019: A €50 million fund allocated by the European Union to the Pacific islands to eliminate domestic violence will require the inclusion of men in programmes to solve the problem.
The €50 million was committed to the Pacific under the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) Spotlight Initiative in Apia yesterday to end domestic violence.
“There will be definitely programs to increase the awareness and mindset of men and boys when it comes to their perception and practice in the violent accidents,” said EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.
He emphasized that any programs that raises zero tolerance of violence against women and girls should include men.
The United Nations Population Fund Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem said men are part of the problem and they can shift to become part of the solution.
“What we do not want is for excuses to be made when acts of violence are committed against women then say the woman is always wrong – end of story.”
She believes the perspective on what is called ‘toxic masculinity’ and the erroneous wrong impression that power over someone else, makes you a bigger man.
“This is something all of society needs to engage with and this is why we say the solution has to come from all realms of society including men,” said Dr. Kanem.
She said the Spotlight Initiative is shining a light on a better society where women and girls will see the light and men too will feel the benefit.
“We will be shinning a light on those who will be succeeding in making changes, and we will be analysing what makes change happen faster as we want to speed up the end to violence,” said Dr. Kanem.
Pacific Needs To Work Collectively To Eliminate The Problem
As leaders of the Pacific, the change must always begin with them, and so the first round of consultation and conversation on how to design a €50 million program that would eliminate violence against women and girls once and for all has begun.
Speaking at the launch of the Spotlight Initiative Tuilaepa reaffirmed Samoa’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of all persons and advancing efforts to address discrimination against women.
He also referred to two studies conducted on Family Safety and Family Violence by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and the National Human Rights Institution that highlighted a high prevalence of violence in the family and in particularly against women and children.
“The sad and alarming findings leave no more room for excuses and it’s time to focus on action and that is why this spotlight event and initiative is timely. It should help continue to lift the veil of silence hiding the reality of family violence, and keep the spotlight on gender base violence,” said Tuilaepa.
He said he would continue calling on the Pacific political leaders, traditional and religious leaders, fathers and families to acknowledge the widespread pain and suffering of women, girls and children.
“Enough is enough. Gender based violence violates the core principles and values of fa’aaloalo, vatapuia and alofa amongst others which are the essence of our fa’a Samoa and faith.”
“For Samoa, a whole country approach is needed to address this issue with more proactive leadership by everyone including Government, village councils, and church leaders, and strong partnerships with all relevant stakeholders and listening to the voices of the survivors.”
He congratulated and commended the EU and UN for this significant program that will support countries around the world including the Pacific nations to further re-enforce existing measures and interventions to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
Commissioner Mimica is looking forward to the outcome of the consultation and is encouraging the Pacific to work together collaboratively through community efforts to ensure the success of Spotlight Initiative.