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.
The Shifting the Power Coalition (StPC) is transforming gender relations by supporting women to demonstrate the power and potential of their leadership during, and well beyond, a humanitarian crisis. The Coalition mobilises resources – including the time and space to meet –making it possible to reach women when they need it, to deliberate, participate, design and deliver what works for diverse women and in local communities.
Our successes to date include mobilising rapid response support to women during the Samoa measles epidemic, supporting COVID-19 response and recovery and empowering local women, including women with disabilities, to lead disaster response and recovery.
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.
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.