WHO supports the end of violence against women and girls in the Pacific

From 25 November to 10 December, WHO offices in the Pacific are taking part in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Campaign, a global campaign calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme, Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls, builds on the Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030) and calls for the need to leave no one behind, especially the underserved and marginalized.

Pacific GBV and Health:

Violence against women and girls, in particular intimate partner violence and sexual violence, is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights. The statistics are alarming, with 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide having experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime

In many Pacific island countries, this rate is much higher. National research conducted in eleven Pacific countries found that Kiribati (68%), Fiji (64%), Solomon Islands (64%), Vanuatu (60%), and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (51 %) recorded the highest rates of intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence for women in the region.

Physical, sexual and emotional violence, whether inflicted by an intimate partner or other person, causes serious short and long term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems. These impacts can also flow on to the children and families, often resulting in significant social and economic costs for families and communities. For women and girls who experience violence, they may also suffer serious health impacts, be socially isolated, unable to work, with adverse impact on their ability to care for themselves and their children.

Protecting women and girls from violence is crucial to broader social and economic well-being. For health practitioners and decision-makers, we all play an important part in preventing and eliminating violence, including by:

  • Advocating for the end of gender-based violence
  • Providing comprehensive services that respond to the needs of survivors holistically and with empathy
  • Aiding in the prevention of recurrences of violence by providing appropriate referral and support to victims of violence
  • Promoting equal and non-discriminatory gender norms as part of life skills and comprehensive sexuality education curricula to young people
  • Compiling data and research on the impact and rate of GBV to inform actions and investment into preventing and eliminating GBV

In marking their ongoing commitment to ending violence against women and girls, WHO Pacific staff annually organise events, ‘orange their offices’ and calls upon all health providers to take action to aid in preventing and eliminating GBV in the Pacific.