Inquiry into the Human Rights of Women & Girls in the Pacific
In July 2020, PWA made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade – Human Rights Sub-Committee to inquire into the Human Rights of Women and Girls in the Pacific.
A result of this submission, saw PWA invited to contribute at a public hearing at Parliament House (Canberra) on 18th June 2021.
In preparation and to ensure community voices were at the forefront for this public hearing, PWA invited the community to share their stories, perspectives and remarks on the topic of: Human Rights of Women and Girls in the Pacific. We thank all participants for their insightful perspectives and entrusting us with their stories!
PWA Vice-President 2021, Ms Cassaundra Rangip represented PWA at the public hearing on 18th June.
Cassaundra Rangip’s opening statement on behalf of Pasifika Women’s Alliance is shared below:
“Today I represent the Pasifika Women’s Alliance Inc. (PWA) an incorporated community civil society organisation In Queensland with a culturally diverse network of women who have migrated to Brisbane, Australia from 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.
Currently we have around 300 members with subscribers and followers up to 6000. This includes all non-citizens, non-PR, NZ citizens and Australian citizens. Established in 2013, PWA’s mission is for Pacific women to lead our own self-determination by identifying the key women’s issues in our wider Pacific diaspora and furthermore, represent the voice on women’s challenges and strengths to all levels of government and stakeholders.
This diaspora represents decades of migration into Australia in search of higher standards of education, health and safety, especially health and safety of children and women who make up part of the diaspora and represent a huge depository of intellectual resources that can be utilised to develop and enhance the state of Pacific affairs, especially women. This is where the role of CSO’s come into play. CSO’s consolidate our intellectual resources that also constitute the brain drain phenomenon from our home countries in search of quality of life.
Consequently, CSO’s offer an important opportunity for Government to tap into to understand the dynamics and complexity of Pacific community to add context in our advancement as a people in how we contribute, help, advance our own people through our culture of community responsibility and connection and capacity gaps can be addressed as they arise.
The approach must understand that the region is inextricably linked in our issues. I refer to our submission as it stands and summarise as follows: We would like to see Pacific women as leaders in our own issues to the extent of co-designing programs that affect us. Part of this co-designing is the inclusion of the Australian diaspora through using CSO’s as contact points of Australian government to contribute meaningfully in providing true context of our state of affairs. For example, through our links with Pacific Islands Council Queensland we were able to contribute in the 2050 Gender Strategy organised by the regional CSO, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Similarly, we would like to advocate and have dialogue directly with government on strategies to advance Pacific women. Empowering Pacific women starts with women’s political, economic and social participation in all forms of leadership through employment, consulting, advisory, board membership and management and Australian Government must be the first subscriber of this view by the mere inclusion in Pacific women leading this issue.
We also would like to put to the committee that there is little to no data available regarding Pacific women from the Pacific region seeking asylum in Australia fleeing violence for our diaspora CSO’s to respond.”
Samoan Women’s Perspectives on Violence Against Women – Roundtable
PWA had the opportunity to be a part of an online Roundtable hosted by the Pacific Australian Women’s Consultative Standing Committee (PAW) & Pacific Women In Network (Pacific WIN) focusing on Samoan Women’s Perspectives on Violence Against Women.
PWA member, Prini Avia attended on behalf of Pasifika Women’s Alliance and contributed her perspectives as a young Samoan woman. We share some of Prini’s thoughts after the Roundtable:
“As I’ve grown to learn more about my Samoan identity, culture and language, I’ve been introduced into an entire world of people making change within our Pasifika community. As I’ve learned more about our way and our people, I’ve also learned about some of the issues we face.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is one issue that is ever present. Yet as this continues to happen within our community, it’s encouraging to know that there is change and education happening to help protect those most vulnerable.
Today I got to sit in with a group to discuss the work of Dr Michael Ligaliga who is completing a project of translating certain English words into Samoan words to explain particular terms of violence. One problem within many Pacific Island nations is that since there are no terms to describe particular acts of violence, it remains unseen. One of our conveners noted that sometimes, if we don’t have language to describe what happened – then it seems like it didn’t happen. This dialogue was apart of the projects work in hearing from our female Samoan community!
Thank you Pasifika Womens Alliance for the opportunity & be encouraged people because change is happening!”