39 trained on women’s needs and vulnerabilities in emergencies in Tonga

Nuku’alofa – Tonga, 08 August, 2022. A three-day Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE) training was conducted in the Kingdom of Tonga last month for 39 frontline service providers from national civil societies organization and government line ministries.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific in partnership with the Ministry of Internal Affairs through the Protection and Safety cluster in Tonga conducted this GBViE training from 25-27 July 2022. The three-day training was an integral element of the government's efforts to strengthen preparedness actions in response to emergency situations, partners were trained on Understanding GBV in emergencies, GBV Minimum Standards, Guidelines for integrating GBV in Humanitarian actions and strengthening coordination and communication.

Gender-based violence is a violation of human rights and affects 1in 3 women globally. The Minister of Internal Affairs Lord Tuiafitu encouraged participants to work collectively in addressing the needs of communities, particularly vulnerable women and girls who need support in times of emergencies.

Key outputs of the training include a strengthened pool of frontline GBV in Emergencies service providers with Action Plans towards coherent and coordinated mechanisms for GBV response during emergencies.

The Minister of Internal Affairs and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Emergency Management Office Mr Paula Mau was pleased with UNFPA’s commitment towards strengthening the capacity of frontline service providers on GBV in emergencies through capacity building, technical support and preposition of Interagency Reproductive Health kits, dignity kits and menstrual health and hygiene kits for use during times of need. The Kingdom of Tonga is still recovering from the impacts of the Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano, and yet again are preparing for the cyclone season which starts this August. The Kingdom of Tonga has also prioritized within 72 hours of emergency the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) which will increase life-saving approaches for women and girls of reproductive age.

According to the Pacific Risk Profile 2021 The Kingdom of Tonga is the second Island country that is prone to quick onset of climate change with high likelihoods of earthquake, and volcanic eruption and therefore is vulnerable to emergencies. UNFPA in Tonga has continued to provide support to the government in responding to the humanitarian and development needs of communities, particularly addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable people at risk including persons with disability, SOGIES, women, and girls.

“This training has been an eye opener for us all to be able to strengthen our support to vulnerable communities in times of emergencies” said a participant.

Participants were from the Tonga Red Cross Society, Tonga Women and Children’s Crisis Center, Leitis Foundation, Talitha Project, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Women and Gender Equality Division, Tonga Police, UNICEF, Tonga Family Health Association, Protection and Safety Cluster.