About Pacific Women

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) is a 10 year $320 million program. Pacific Women supports 14 Pacific countries to meet the commitments made in the 2012 Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration and will work with Pacific governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and multilateral, regional and United Nations agencies to achieve its intended outcomes:


  1. Women, and women’s interests, are increasingly and effectively represented and visible through leadership at all levels of decision-making.
  2. Women have expanded opportunities to earn an income and accumulate economic assets.
  3. Violence against women is reduced and survivors of violence have access to support services and to justice.
  4. Women in the Pacific will have a stronger sense of their own agency, supported by a changing legal and social environment and through increased access to the services they need.


  • More than 60 per cent of surveyed women and girls in some Pacific countries         have experienced physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner or family member.


  • Across the Pacific, men outnumber women in paid employment outside the agricultural sector by approximately two to one.


  • Women make up just 7.5 per cent of parliamentarians in the Pacific (the lowest    rate in the world), compared to a global average of around 23.3 per cent.


Program Governance

An Advisory Board comprising twelve prominent Pacific women and men guides the initiative. Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls is an observer to the Board.


Program Delivery and Implementation

Australia’s support is primarily delivered at the country level. Individual country plans have been developed – in close consultation with Pacific women and men, their organisations and national governments – to guide implementation of activities. Regional and multi- country activities are funded to address common issues across the region and to complement and build on country activities. Since its launch in August 2012, approximately $90 million has been expensed on over 100 activities


Women living with disabilities

Two country plans have activities that specifically target women living with disabilities, i.e. Cook Islands and Tuvalu. A member of the Pacific Women Advisory Board represents the interests of women living with disabilities.  Country plan development has included consultation with women living with disabilities and disabled peoples’ organisations.


In the first four years of Pacific Women: 

  • 22,217 women have increased access to crisis support services
  • 3,495 have access to financial information and literacy
  • 2,548 women have had formal opportunities to share their ideas and learn from each other
  • 692 men have actively engaged in promoting gender equality (in the reporting period of July 2015-June 2016)
  • 9,385 women were supported to take on leadership roles at the community, provincial and national-level


Pacific Women – Samples of Activities


Women’s Leadership:

  • Supporting women candidates preceding government elections in Samoa in March 2016 – practice parliamentary sessions were held in January 2016 to facilitate greater awareness and understanding of parliamentary procedures and debates. Similar sessions were also held in Nauru in February 2016 in preparation for the country’s June elections.


Women’s Economic Empowerment:

  • Supporting reforms in the coffee industry to open up cash cropping opportunities for women farmers in remote areas of Eastern Highlands Province of PNG. The program also aims to increase the number of skilled women agriculture extension officers directly supporting women.
  • Working with the Vanuatu Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Program to improve training and employment outcomes for women and girls in Vanuatu. During 2015, TVET Centres have supported the delivery of 105 skills development activities, including 16 accredited trainings, 63 Business Development Services workshops and 26 coaching / mentoring programs, reaching 285 women.


Reducing Violence against Women:

  • Working with church leaders across 30 communities in Solomon Islands (targeting 10,000 women and men) through World Vision’s Channels of Hope program and working with UnitingWorld across the Pacific to change attitudes and behaviours on violence against women and challenge gender stereotypes.
  • Supporting enhanced understanding on human rights, governance democracy and the rule of law in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru and Vanuatu in collaboration with the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT)


Strengthening Organisational Capacity to deliver Gender Equality Outcomes:

  • Supporting Fijian women’s groups and women-focused civil society organisations work towards gender equality through establishing a seven-year $10.5 million Women’s Fund.
  • Providing technical assistance through Gender Advisors to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and the North Pacific to support the implementation of country plans and local capacity development.


Pacific Women Support Unit

To support program management and the many facets of program and activity level implementation, a Pacific Women Support Unit has been contracted. The Support Unit’s role is to provide technical, administrative and logistical support to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) bilateral and regional Pacific Women programs.

The Support Unit, based in Fiji, is led by Linda Petersen. Before taking up the Team Leader role with the Support Unit, Linda managed the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Culture, Gender and Youth Program. Other members of the team based in Suva include Deputy Team Leader, Sarah Boxall; Gender Specialist, Alina Meyer; Monitoring & Evaluation Manager, Emily Miller; Senior Programs Manager, Hilary Gorman; Finance & Administration Manager, Cynthia Ramirez; Communications Coordinator, Shazia Usman; Senior Program Officer – Gender, Tara Chetty; Senior Programs Officer, Shirly Narayan; Program Officer, Pranit Sami; Knowledge Management & Research Officer, Amali Shaw; and Finance & Administration Assistant, Amelia Kamanalagi. To provide direct support to the DFAT Post in Papua New Guinea, a sub-office of the Support Unit has been established in Port Moresby. Staff include PNG Country Manager, Richelle Tickle; Program Manager, Mercy Masta; Monitoring & Evaluation Officer, Brenda Andrias; Finance & Administration Officer, Tovi Amona and Transport Officer, Christopher Bray.

The Support Unit and DFAT’s Pacific Women team – including Director Tracey Newbury (based in Canberra), First Secretary, Gender Equality, Suzanne Bent  (based at the Australian High Commission in Fiji) and Gender Focal Points (based at DFAT Posts around the region) - have agreed to use a one team approach based on established partnership principles to work together to manage the Pacific Women program.


For more information on Pacific Women, you can: