A procedural menu for the safety of women and children in evacuation centres was activated around the 134 evacuation centres around Fiji.
The idea for the procedural menu was to create a safe space for women and children and meeting the needs of the vulnerable in these centres while staying there during a natural disaster.
Procedural menu was set up by United Nations Women, Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC).
Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said all responder workers visiting evacuation centres should have knowledge about gender-based violence (GBV).
“I believe every worker who is there and at every national disaster meeting should have a round-the-table discussion and knowledge about GBV and this should be part of everyone’s agenda,” Ms Ali said.
“The women’s work … the burden on them, the issue of safety of women and children – these are things that should be on everyone’s agenda and it should be mainstreamed.
“I believe working non-government organisations that are on this site should be resourced in terms of transport and being part of the group of responders that go out.”
She said women and children’s vulnerability doubled during natural disasters.
She said they found out during post Tropical Cyclone Winston that violence against women and children had increased.
“When we went out to the islands and some of the affected areas, women complained about men being a lot more violent and a lot more violent than in normal times,” she said.
“This was because the men were supposed to be the providers, but they could not find the food or help their families, so all their frustration was all taken out.
“They felt disempowered when they should be in control. We also found that women were left alone by themselves and this was very unsafe. They were scared. People were not addressing the issue of gender.
“There were evacuation centres that were not separated, families were staying together and these were the most unsafe for them.’’
She applauded the Government for putting the procedural menu into action.
“I would like to acknowledge the Government for playing its part and ensuring that all women and children are safe in evacuation centres,” she said.
“So far, we have not received any cases of violence against women and children,” she said.
Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said officers were deployed to evacuation centres around Fiji.
“Officers were deployed around Fiji, this is to ensure that all citizens are safe,” Ms Naisoro said.