Supporting recovery through services
In Fiji, a national service delivery referral system for cases of gender-based violence had long been discussed, but it took the response to a natural disaster to push forward its development. Supported by UN Women, the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation developed the first fully fledged national protocol for responding to cases of gender-based violence. It outlines guiding principles, and describes the roles and responsibilities of health, social services, police, shelter and legal justice service providers. The protocol aligns with the global essential services package jointly developed by UN Women and four other UN entities.
The new approach arose from the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Winston, which left 40,000 people needing immediate assistance. Three weeks into the response to this emergency, a UN Women-supported national referral pathway was in place to ensure first responders and community members were aware of the range of services available to women and girls, and how to refer cases. UN Women led the distribution of information on life-saving care in cases of violence to 20,000 women and girls, and linked 13,000 who had experienced violence or were at risk of it to essential support services. The effort included special outreach to nearly 400 women with disabilities.
Around the world, gaps in protective services mean that women seeking refuge from violence may never find it. In the Oromia Region, Ethiopia’s biggest state, UN Women has addressed a dire need and modeled a way forward by establishing a 50-bed shelter, now the largest in the country. Several hundred women and children have sought assistance from a full complement of housing, food, medical, legal, counselling and job training services.
The shelter is one aspect of UN Women’s efforts to help bring an end to gender-based violence in Ethiopia. In the Amhara region, training for over 300 religious leaders led them to work with their communities to prevent nearly 500 child marriages. A partnership with the Central Statistics Agency produced the first commitment to registering data on violence every five years, a contribution to better measurement called for in the global goals. This should provide much needed evidence to build more shelters and, as importantly, mobilize action to prevent violence altogether.