Mobilizing Women's Leadership: Solutions for Protection and Recovery in a Time of COVID 19 and TC Harold

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls
Posted August 5, 2020 from Fiji

Mobilizing Women's Leadership: Solutions for Protection and Recovery in a Time of COVID 19 and TC Harold is a new report from the Shifting the Power Coalition’s network of women leaders and focal points, including young women and women with disabilities which is an urgent call to Pacific Leaders  that women’s rights are non-negotiable in COVID19 response programming and that the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway (PHP) must tackle the drivers of gender inequalities in areas such as access to healthcare and economic recovery, including access to natural resources.   

The recommendations are linked to commitments to women’s rights and disability inclusion including the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Pacific Platform for Action for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights must be integrated in prevention, early intervention and treatment, as well as long term recovery efforts including the Boe Declaration Action Plan.

The Coalition further recommends:

·                     A multistakeholder process that ensures Pacific Women’s Rights and Feminist Organisations and networks provide gender oversight to the PHP and national response and recovery measures

·                     Increased funding and capacity development to local and national women’s groups as equal partners in humanitarian action with targeted and direct support through both development and humanitarian programming

·                     Dedicated funding for localized, women-led approach to protection from Gender Based Violence

·                     Dedicated funding for women-led livelihood and food security programmes

The Coalition alongside the Pacific Disability Forum urges all levels of government, agencies, health ministries and the private sector throughout the Pacific to work with Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs) to ensure that persons with disabilities, in particular women, children and young persons with disabilities are not left behind in the COVID-19 response.

Already the Coalition is seeing changes in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response. In Bougainville Agnes Titus, Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation combined her women, peace and security expertise and mediation skills to influence the composition of the regional disaster management committee: “We spoke for the need to include women in the design table of this disaster management or disaster recovery. I could see that you could hear a pin drop because it was the first time for these men who normally go to these meetings to hear that because we stressed the fact that women’s needs are actually different from men’s needs and so we have to take these things into account when we are preparing for disaster and recovery. So, I know that these things have come now to the table of the decision makers

An initial rapid women’s human security assessment across the Shifting the Power Coalition (the Coalition) in March clearly identified the importance of the peace-development-humanitarian nexus approach to COVID19 and TC Harold. Priorities across the coalition were economic, health and food security, as well as community and personal security. As the Coalition found with the Samoa measles epidemic (2019) and now with COVID-19, gender inequalities influence access to healthcare, resources, and information, all of which play a role in prevention, early intervention, and treatment.

Recommendations are drawn from an online questionnaire and focus group interviews with women leaders representing diverse constituencies across six countries.

There were 15 respondents to the Coalition’s online questionnaire from Fiji, Papua New Guinea including Bougainville, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu representing urban and rural women, young women and women with disabilities, as well as sports networks, government and private sector.  An additional 35 women leader of networks representing close to 25,000 diverse Pacific women were interviewed by the Coalition’s focal points.  This included rural women, young women, women with disabilities and members of the LGBT network. 49% of interviewees in Fiji were young women (30 years and under), all the respondents in Tonga were young women and 50% of respondents in Samoa were young women.

The report also draws on activities members have undertaken in response to TC Harold as well as COVID19, with the support of small emergency grants. As a result of funding from the Australian Government - through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development programme, from December 2019 to June 2020 AUD365000 has been disbursed across the Coalition member countries in response to the Samoa measles pandemic, COVID19 and TC Harold supporting children and family members of women with disabilities, rural women and young mothers working in the informal economy as well as LGBTQI community through these response actions.

Read the report here:


Comments 4

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Aug 06
Aug 06

Thank you for sharing.

Hello, Sharon,

How are you doing? I hope you and your family are safe and well during this pandemic.

I'm glad that women's voices are heard on the recommendations you listed. May there be more dedicated funding for women-led initiatives and development.

Thank you for sharing this update with us. Kudos for your participation in creating meaningful solutions for women! We stand with you.

Please stay safe!

Beth Lacey
Aug 10
Aug 10

Great to read this update, Sharon

Aug 14
Aug 14

Thank for your updates, so much good jobs done by women!