The Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna, has called for urgent action to address the alarming rates of Violence Against Women and Girls in the Pacific region.

Observing the global annual 16-Days campaign, Puna emphasised the critical need to invest in preventing gender-based violence for the prosperity and resilience of the Blue Pacific Continent.

The 2023 United Nations 16 Days of Activism theme, “Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls,” resonates strongly in the Blue Pacific Continent.

Puna highlighted the awareness of high rates of violence in the region, stressing the necessity to move beyond awareness and invest more in concrete actions. The call for investment is not just financial but extends to collective efforts, solutions, and community engagement.

“In the face of often daunting challenges, the resilience of feminists, women’s rights activists, community activists, traditional and religious leaders, and human rights defenders is truly commendable. Their contributions, though often unseen, are instrumental in driving the change we seek,” acknowledged Puna.

“A thriving Blue Pacific Continent, aligned with the Leaders 2050 vision, must include women and girls in all their diversity. It requires a multifaceted approach—from holding perpetrators accountable to ensuring survivors receive necessary services. Building confidence in the security and rule of law, as well as engaging men and boys, is essential for a comprehensive strategy against violence,” stated Puna.

“As seen in successful programmes like the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls, holistic approaches involving communities in faith, sport, and civic spaces are crucial. At the regional level, the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have endorsed the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan and the revitalised Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, providing a strategic framework for our collective efforts,” highlighted Puna.

“Investing in preventing gender-based violence is an investment in families, clans, tribes, and communities. It ensures that all citizens can contribute to building a safe and free Blue Pacific Continent. It is a call for a united stand against violence in all its forms, accelerating actions for a secure and prosperous future,” urged the Forum Secretary-General.