Humanitarian responses have traditionally been controlled by male-dominated international bodies, leaving little space for women in affected communities to lead. As a result, women’s rights and needs are rarely prioritised. The Pacific is experiencing a significant increase in climate-induced humanitarian disasters. In this context, ActionAid Australia is a member of the Shifting the Power Coalition (StPC) supporting diverse pacific women to lead emergency response and take power back into their own hands – ensuring disaster response, humanitarian and climate action.   

Since 2016, the Shifting the Power Coalition has worked across six countries and partnered with 13 organisations including the Pacific Disability Forum, ActionAid Vanuatu, Fiji Disabled People’s Federation, Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation – Bougainville, Talitha Project – Tonga, Transcend Oceania – Fiji, Vanuatu Young Women for Change, Vanuatu Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association, Vois Blong Mere Solomon and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

Today, spanning a network of close to 100,000  grassroots, intergenerational and inclusive movements in seven Pacific Island Forum countries, it is the only women-led regional alliance focused on strengthening the collective power, influence and leadership of diverse Pacific women to respond to disasters and climate change. Through its work, the coalition brings attention to women’s collective peacebuilding, community-led activism, Pacific-driven innovation and humanitarian expertise as well as Pacific women’s collective and personal lived realities.

Read the 2020 Shifting the Power Coalition Brochure here


The Shifting the Power Coalition’s (StPC) work has led to significant change on many levels, from increasing individual empowerment to shifting the power within communities and at the national and regional level. The Coalition are ensuring women’s needs and stories during crises are documented, heard, and listened to.

The Coalition is transforming gender relations in the Pacific through building the capacity of women leaders to engage in national disaster coordination mechanisms and decision making. This has contributed to increasing the role, visibility, and influence of women in disaster planning. Our work has contributed to developing:

  • The first women-led response to TC Harold in Vanuatu, which ensured that the needs of women, including women with disabilities on the ground, were heard and responded to.
  • Women-led preparedness efforts and responses to TC Yasa in Fiji, which documented diverse women’s needs and helped to provide immediate relief to communities affected; and
  • Women-led COVID-19 responses in Fiji, PNG, including Bougainville, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu that are contributing to increased awareness within communities and support for vaccinations.

Since 2019, 6000 women from local clubs and networks have undertaken training on Women’s Leadership and Disability Inclusion in Humanitarian Action to become part of national efforts to shift the power in disaster management and humanitarian action.

The Coalition has shown that access to information and space for women’s organising and convening is critical to enable women to engage in decision making and policy spaces. Through regional consultations and training programmes, the Coalition has brought together the perspectives of diverse rural women, women with disabilities, peacebuilders, humanitarian actors and young women through collaborative and mutual learning.

Impact Assessment: Shifting the Power Coalition


Read the Shifting the Power Coalition Project Summary,  Advocacy Brief and Mobilising Women’s Leadership.

Listen to the voices of Pacific women humanitarians in the Shifting the Power Coalition here.

Keep up to date with the latest information on the Shifting the Power Coalition Facebook page.

Shifting the Power Together: Pacific Women-Led Responses to COVID-19  

The Shifting the Power Coalition Handbook, produced with the support of the Feminist Humanitarian Network, presents lessons learnt from the Samoa response to the 2019 measles pandemic and how the STP Coalition has played a role in documenting the gendered impacts of the health emergency and gaps in the response.

The handbook also draws from experiences of partners in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu responding to Tropical Cyclone Harold which brought additional challenges to COVID-19 prevention and response efforts. Many of these recommendations were featured in the Coalition’s advocacy brief.

The handbook is a tool to guide engagement with the ongoing COVID-19 response and prevention of future disasters with specific sections dedicated to women with disabilities as well as young women.

Read the Handbook Here


Shifting the Power Coalition: Communicating Local Priorities and making Global Connections

In collaboration with the Generation Equality Forum Civil Society Advisory Group, with the support of the NGO-CSW Committee, Shifting the Power Coalition partners convened “On the Mat” consultations to connect local and national priorities with global commitments to support diverse women’s leadership on Peace and Security. The consultations focused on the Women-Peace-Security and

Humanitarian Action Compact with Coalition partners collectively calling for:

  • Accessible and inclusive communications
  • Safe spaces for women and girls in all their diversities.
  • Financing locally-led, women-led responses.
  • Building strong networks of local women leaders to strengthen engagement in national humanitarian spaces such as the cluster system and push back against INGO led spaces
  • Valuing women’s indigenous and localised knowledge
  • Recognising women’s organisations as critical actors in localising WPS and humanitarian action.
  • Going beyond gender equality approaches to intersectional ones that lift up the experiences and agency of diverse women, including women with disabilities, young women, rural women and LGBTIQ communities.
  • Through our partnerships with the Feminist Humanitarian Network and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict we will continue to amplify local strategies to reinforce the power and voice of feminist movements and young women in the implementation of the WPS and Humanitarian Action Compact.

Our Partnerships Principles

StPC is building an inclusive, feminist model of partnership and collaboration. This requires listening to diverse women’s voices and creating safe, intergenerational spaces in which to learn and develop together. The Coalition helps women get the resources they need—including the time and space to meet and the funding to drive their own priorities—to participate, deliberate, design, and deliver what works for women and their local communities.

Our Feminist Partnership Principles are:

  • Feminist collaboration – listening to, and learning from, one another
  • Diversity – leading to new values and perspectives
  • Equity – leading to respect
  • Openness – leading to trust
  • Mutual benefit – leading to commitment
  • Courage – leading to innovation

The women we work with

The Shifting the Power Coalition brings together 13 women from six Pacific Nations to share their experiences, collaborate and amplify recommendations. Check out the work these women are doing in the video below.


Pacific Island Countries

Our Partners:

The Pacific Disability Forum and 12 women-led civil society organisations from across the Pacific Islands: ActionAid (Australia and Vanuatu); the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation; the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation; the Talitha Project; Transcend Oceania; the YWCAs of Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands; Vanuatu Young Women for Change; the Vanuatu Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association; and Vois Blong Mere Solomon Islands.


2016 – ongoing

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This project is supported by the Australian Government and ActionAid Australia