Violence against women is an abuse of fundamental human rights, says Australia's Head of Mission, Judith Robinson. She said there was evidence to suggest that violence against women negates every area of development activity.
"It impacts on women's health and it also impacts on the ability of women to actively participate in the economic, political and social activities within their community," she said.
"Absenteeism from jobs is reported to be high among those subjected to violence.
"Political engagement and decision- making, as well as educational opportunities are hindered."
Ms Robinson made the comments while presenting certificates to participants at the Regional Training Program on Eliminating Violence against Women in Suva on Thursday night. As secretariat of the Pacific Women's Network Against Violence Against Women, the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre holds the training twice a year. Participants from 13 Pacific member countries with 24 organisations addressed the issue of violence against women and children in their diverse communities during the training program. Ms Robinson said violence against women was not only a phenomenon in the Pacific but was also a significant issue in Australia.
"The prevalence of social attitudes that accept violence against women is disturbing, where in some communities violence is considered an acceptable social practice," she said.
"The Australian Government recognises that these issues are fundamental to the challenge of development in our region.
"Reducing and eliminating violence against women is crucial to achieving equality between men and women and to delivering good development outcomes - something we all strive for - safer, healthier and more prosperous communities."
Ms Robinson said the FWCC was one of AusAID's key partners in efforts to address violence against women in the region and women's rights in general. FWCC coordinator, Shamima Ali said, "It is hoped that the knowledge imparted and acquired on gender, counselling, data collection, human rights and laws is put to good use and into changing mindsets with the aim of preventing violence against women."