Source: New Zealand Government
E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā iwi, e ngā rau rangatira ma.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
Ni sa bula vinaka.
Thank you Shamima, Hon. Minister Vuniwaqa, community leaders and Women’s Crisis Centre staff for your warm welcome.
It’s an honour and privilege to officially open your new premises today. I am delighted to be part of the celebrations and to personally acknowledge the critical support services you provide to women and their families at their most vulnerable.
Whilst it is tragic that our societies and our nations continue to require services to protect women and girls from violence and abuse, today, we pay tribute to the impact that the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre has had, and will continue to have, in improving the lives of thousands of Fijian women.
In opening the Nadi centre this morning, I’d like to acknowledge the origins of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre. It began as a grassroots organisation, established by women, who came together out of concern for the impact of violence in their communities.
From those humble beginnings, fast forward 35+ years, and FWCC is still stepping up to support Fijian women in crisis, as well as providing training and advocacy services for Pacific women more broadly through the Pacific Network to End Violence Against Women.
Today I’d like to thank those pioneering women who championed and established the Centre, for their vision and determination in creating a movement for change. In particular I would like to acknowledge FWCC’s coordinator Shamima Ali, whom as we know has been the key architect of FWCC’s development since the very beginning.
On behalf of many thousands of women, Shamima, we honour you and the difference you are making in the world. What a legacy you have built in promoting women’s rights as human’s rights.
Thank you also to the many women, and men, involved in supporting and delivering the services of the Nadi Women’s Crisis Centre. You should be very proud of how you are serving your community. Thank you for your manaakitanga in hosting me this morning.
New Zealand has shared an enduring relationship with Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, as a key supporter of your movement since the 1990s. We are proud of this association and our continued commitment, in partnership with the Government of Australia, to support FWCC’s endeavours to ultimately break the cycle of violence.
I must also acknowledge with respect and admiration the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa on your commitment to tackling violence against women and girls through the development of a National Action Plan. Fiji is the first Pacific Island country to adopt an all-of-government approach to preventing violence against women and girls, grounded in strong, evidence-based policy. This national approach to address the root causes of gender based violence through policy action will further support the mandate and impact of civil society partners such as FWCC.
2020 is the fifth anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals, with ten years until their culmination. Whilst Goal Five focuses on gender, the fact is that women’s equality and empowerment is integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. In short all the SDGs depend on the achievement of gender equality. The call to action for gender equality and women’s empowerment is therefore even more urgent and remains one of the most pressing development issues in the Pacific. Developing strong Pacific positions on key areas related to gender equality and women’s empowerment continues to be critical to ensuring the voice of the Pacific is heard on the international stage.
At the bilateral level, New Zealand and Fiji’s principles and approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment are aligned. Last year we saw this alignment translate into real partnership with the preparation for the Beijing +25 Platform for Action Review and the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
I am delighted to see our cooperation with Fiji increasing via our new partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation. This partnership will support the role of the Ministry as the Government of Fiji’s core policy coordinating unit for promoting gender equality in Fiji, and will contribute to the development of the National Action Plan. It will also enable other in kind support to develop deeper linkages with New Zealand’s Ministry of Women.
I have great faith, like those pioneering women who founded FWCC, that together, we can address gender inequality and improve social and economic outcomes for girls and women in Fiji.
I will leave you with a proverb from the indigenous people of New Zealand – the Maori:
Me aro koe ki te hā o Hineahuone
Pay heed to the dignity of women
I’d like to think that’s what this centre’s mission is all about.