The story of Pacific island women leaders across six different Pacific countries working for an inclusive approach in climate change and related disasters will be told at the Third Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change virtual conference. Shifting the Power Coalition is comprised of women’s rights and disability organisations across the Pacific region working together to strengthen diverse women’s voices, agency and decision making in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
Their work undertaken in the Pacific to strengthen local women’s leadership and disability inclusion will be presented on day two of the 2020 POPCCC during the special session on Women and Climate Change.
Women and girls are disproportionately exposed to risk, increased loss of livelihoods, security, and even lives, during and in the aftermath of disasters. Every action undertaken to strengthen women’s capacity to engage in policy and decision-making process is crucial, and while much has been achieved more needs to be done.
According to UN Women, new gender-responsive disaster resilience policies covering an additional 181 million people were adopted in 2019, increasing women’s capacity to withstand disasters, survive them and to recover from them.
The Shifting the Power Coalition is working to enhance accountability to these commitments through an intergenerational approach that supports Pacific women, in particular those from rural communities, young women and those with disabilities to gain access to climate services and information. The Coalition is a Pacific women-led model with a strong focus on enabling a South-to-South exchange holding up Pacific led innovations, not seeing capacity building as a one way North to South transfer and promoting an intersectional approach that goes beyond a generic approach to ‘gender’ as if all women’s experiences were the same.
“We were established in 2016 and now work with 200 diverse women leaders from six different Pacific islands with combined outreach of over 40,000 women. We are working to ensure that our voice is heard at the decision making table when it comes to responding to disaster and climate change,” said Ms Sharon Bhagwan Rolls Technical Adviser of the Coalition which was established in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Cyclone Winston in Fiji.
“We aim to strengthen women’s capacity to engage in policy and decision making, we have to give our Pacific realities, we must be seen, heard and included. . Our model of organizing – is also Shifting the Power"
Shifting the Power Coalition partners in Fiji, Papua New Guinea (including Bougainville), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu are supported to undertake local and national activities engaging with traditional and faith based leaders, and continuously focused on bringing diverse women’s priorities and voices into relevant policy making spaces at regional, national and sub-national level
"Our commitment to young women's leadership is also evident in our new Pacific Young Women Responding to Climate Change project which will support diverse young women from our Coalition partners and their national networks to lead evidence-based responses to climate change and disasters. It has a unique focus on enabling yyoung women, including those with disability, to access climate services information in order to influence climate change and DRR decision making processes."
Partnerships with the Pacific Conference of Churches, PICAN, 350.org and SPREP will be an important aspect of implementation.
The third Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Change virtual Conference opens on 27 October 2020, featuring over 90 presenters talking to Pacific issues. The theme of the biennial conference is “Blue Pacific, Climate Action for Climate Resilience.” The four-day conference has three sub-themes: Science, People and Oceans.
Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and the National University of Samoa (NUS) are working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Government of Samoa to convene the online Conference.
The special session on Women and Climate Change focusses on gender and the disproportionate impacts of women affected by climate change and features four special presentations. The topic to be presented by Ms Sharon Bhagwan Rolls is “Strengthening Local Women's Leadership and Disability Inclusion: The Shifting the Power Coalition Approach in the Pacific.”
To register for the conference, please visit www.pacificoceanclimatechange.org.
The Third Pacific Climate Change Conference from 27–30 October 2020 is a partnership between the Government of Samoa, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), National University of Samoa (NUS), Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University Wellington and the Government of Samoa. The theme of this online conference is ‘Blue Pacific, Climate Action for Climate Resilience’. Further information can be found at https://pacificoceanclimatechange.org/.
For more information and to arrange media interviews please contact:
• Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, Trudy Lagolago on (04) 463 9522 or by email at [email protected]
• Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)—Leanne Moananu at (685) 21929 or [email protected]
• National University of Samoa—Sagapolutele Junior Jensen at [email protected]