Pasifika Peace Talanoa: And She Persisted for Peace

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls
Posted May 23, 2020 from Fiji

**a feature via the GPPAC Pacific Regional Network 

May 24 is the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament and GPPAC Pacific uplifts the commitment and efforts of women within our network who continue to persist for conflict prevention and human security in homes, communities and countries in our region. We recognise that many in our region continue to struggle for political independence and live with the humanitarian impact of nuclear testing in our region.   It is vital as we approach the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security) serious consideration must be given to shifting the power to national and local women’s rights actors, to strengthen agency, amplify voice, and build on collaborative opportunities including women-led coalitions and feminist best practices:  “Addressing gender-based violence… contributes to achieving personal peace. Once personal peace is there, we can find family peace, community peace, and the overall regional peace” – Agnes Titus, Program Coordinator at Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation

With elections scheduled in Bougainville and New Caledonia, we reiterate the need for greater resources to support women’s leadership in ensuring peaceful elections, and the transitional peace and political processes that follow.  

There is also an urgent need to end the violence in Tanah Papua, as well as proceed with a human rights investigation and an independent Pacific-led peacekeeping mission. Such a mission must be accompanied by gender and youth inclusive community level dialogue and mediation, peace education and trauma healing. 

Regional Commitments

The Pacific Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2012-2015) reaffirmed that in many violent situations in the Pacific region, women and women’s organisations demonstrated their capacity to contribute to solutions, whether as mediators or as part of groups working to improve conditions in local communities, or as providers of safe havens for women and children affected by violence and demanding accountability and respect for human rights. Women have actively worked across ethnic divides at considerable personal and organizational risk. In our region, women have organised peace vigils, rallies and silent marches, as well as dialogue. 

They negotiated across crocodile infested rivers with armed combatants; developed peace education methods; encouraged voting through advocacy, awareness raising and information dissemination. They have provided peace education and mediated in community disputes. 

Women peacebuilders have supported soldiers returning from peacekeeping deployment; provided technical inputs into defence reviews and national security policy development and have led significant efforts across the region to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence.

These are only a few examples of responses to conflict or perceived threats to human security that women leaders and women’s organizations have developed and sustained over the years:  “We have been working closely with men to train them on peace education and understanding conflicts, power and violence. To work hand in hand with men to prevent violence against women and girls” - Adivasu Levu, Executive Director of Transcend Oceania.

Securing sustainable peace following the crises in Fiji, the armed conflict of Solomon Islands and the war in Bougainville, requires further involvement of women, which is one of the key aims of GPPAC Pacific. 

Through the GPPAC Pacific network women peacebuilders, faith leaders and traditional leaders will continue to collaborate through Gender Transformative Peacebuilding Practices to enhance conflict prevention and human security:  “Sometimes you just have to be proactive… and let [them] know that we have to be on their radar all the time” Josephine Teakeni, Director of Vois Blong Mere Solomon   Climate Security is Human Security: As we continue to expect more frequent local and national climate change induced disasters of greater scale and impact, we will see a deepening of existing gender and other inequalities and an increase of threats to women’s safety and security unless measures are put in place to prevent and mitigate this. 

While we welcome the recognition of the climate change crisis within recent UN Security Council and Pacific Forum meetings, we must ensure that this is about enhancing and ensuring human security outcomes for an environment security approach for communities most affected. 

It requires a process that enables women to define the resilience for peaceful communities. It requires alignment of the Pacific Resilience Framework and the 2018 Boe Declaration to enhancing the peace, development, humanitarian and human security nexus from an inclusive conflict prevention approach that takes into account the root causes of violence and conflict that also act as barriers to ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

The COVID19 pandemic brings greater complexity to the work of Pacific Peacebuilders already dealing with issues including the complexities of the climate crisis as well as the progressing conflict prevention and human security, including political security priorities for non-independent territories and regions. 

A key priority for the GPPAC Pacific network is to support our communities adapt to the changes that are being felt in their homes and communities as well as communicate their recommendations for the response and recovery efforts. This includes addressing the prevention of violence, mobilising assistance to local communities, localising information and identifying solutions to ensure peace and security in homes and communities.  We do not need a militarised response, and therefore call for the integration of the commitments to the Women, Peace and Security to enhance a collective and inclusive Human Security approach into the implementation of the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C)

Recommendations: Redesign the Table 

The GPPAC Pacific network is committed to deepen a collective understanding of peacebuilding and conflict prevention by supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives that continue to contribute to establishing a culture of nonviolence and prevention that will collectively promote Human Security, Inclusive Conflict Prevention and Climate action for Ecological Just’Peace.

What is needed is a new multi-actor consultative framework for regional peace and security that supports civil society representatives who can localize and operationalize Women, Youth and Civil Society Peacebuilding, Prevention and Participation frameworks. Women do not just need to be consulted, but supported to enhance our infrastructures for peace and security at local and national levels.

The GPPAC Pacific report “Redesign the Table” (2020) presents a series of learnings and recommendations across the four key pillars of the WPS agenda: Participation in Peacebuilding and Prevention; Protection of Women Peacebuilders and Women’s Human Rights Defenders; Relief and Recovery; and Accountability of State, Inter-Governmental Organisations and Multilateral Systems to the Sustaining Peace and Human Security Agenda: “When we collectively put together our expertise, intellect, ideas, experiences and passions only then the movement will be effective” – Vanessa Heleta, Talitha Project   The report draws on the rich experience and expertise of GPPAC Pacific network members in ending conflict and bringing peace to their respective countries including Fiji, Papua New Guinea including Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. 

Since 2007, the GPPAC Pacific network has collaborated and engaged in local, national, as well as regional and global processes bringing attention to how the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda can be localised into peacebuilding, non-violence and conflict prevention action in the Pacific region.  

The report was coordinated through the GPPAC Pacific Secretariat – Transcend Oceania, through the GPPAC WPS small grants facility, supported by SIDA. Read the “And She Persisted for Peace – Redesign the Table”: https://gppac.net/resources/and-she-persisted-peace-redesign-table

Comments 3

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Dawn Arteaga
May 23
May 23

Thank you for sharing this Sharon. The world is a better place because of your strong voice. Is there anything the World Pulse community can do to help move this essential work forward?

Tamarack Verrall
May 24
May 24

Hi Sharon,
The work that has been done especially by women in your region, showing what needs to change, and what has already begun to change through local committees that have strong women present, show the way that we need to go in all of our countries. Your message needs to be paid respectful and change-effective attention, this increase of threats to women’s safety and security that need immediate measures in place. The term "Redesign the Table" is powerful, as that is what we need. Not to be at best "consulted" yet again, but to be in positions to make these changes happen.
As always, your voice and your work is an inspiration.
In sisterhood,
Tam

Anita Shrestha
May 26
May 26

Thank you for sharing.