Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President of USP and Ms Sandra Bernklau, Representative from the UN Women following the signing of the research consultancy with staff from USP and UNW.
A Research Project between The University of the South Pacific (USP) and the United Nations Women (UNW) will explore the connections between gender (in) equality, Violence Against Women & Girls (VAWG) and sports, especially rugby in the Pacific Islands, focusing on Fiji and Samoa.
This follows the signing of a consultancy contract between Ms Sandra Bernklau, Representative from the UN Women and Professor Pal Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor & President of USP at the Laucala Campus on 20 June 2019.
Professor Ahluwalia said the University and UN Women have had a very constructive relationship, particularly with the School of Social Sciences (SOSS) and the School of Development, Government and International Affairs (SDGIA).
“We are gravely concerned about violence against women and other vulnerable groups and our programmes are designed to ensure that we educate our students on strategies and interventions that would eliminate such violence,” he stated.
He mentioned he was pleased with this initiative, adding that it was a partnership that USP valued very much.
Professor Ahluwalia also congratulated and acknowledged the research Team from USP including Dr Yoko Kanemasu (Team Leader, USP Sociology), Dr James Johnson (USP Psychology), and Asenati Liki Chan-Tung (former USP Gender Studies Coordinator).
Ms Bernklau echoed similar sentiments, mentioning that they were happy to partner with USP as the region’s premier tertiary institution.
“The Pacific Partnership to End VAWG (Pacific Partnership) is going into new territory. It is quite an innovative approach looking at preventing violence before it starts, and a greater understanding of the triggers, and the cultural and social norms that lead to violence,” she said.
She added that this research will be critical “in building up and informing our programmatic response. We are pleased to have the best possible partnership to take this research forward and to have it embedded in an institution like USP where it can inform areas of both our work”.
It really is a great comprehensive regional programme and this research forms part of it,” she added.
With the research timeline beginning from June 2019-October 2019 and a budget of US$28,380.00, the findings are expected to inform UN Women’s future strategies for engaging with sports organisations for social norms change in the Pacific, in the area of women and girls’ participation in sports.
Dr Kanemasu and Dr Johnson have conducted similar consultancy research for Oceania Rugby in 2016 and were the recipients of the Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Research Impact in 2016.
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