Vanuatu continues to have the highest rates of violence against women and girls globally with 60 percent of ni-Vanuatu women aged 15-49 years having experienced physical and/or sexual violence. There is now great focus on addressing this issue; acknowledging both the ways this impacts upon the individual directly as well as broader repercussions for development of the country as a whole. Roslyn David is one Australia Awards Scholarships alumnus who is making meaningful change in this area through her work as a National Consultant with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) under the Spotlight Initiative.
Roslyn received a Master of International Relations from the University of Queensland in 2021 through the Australia Awards Scholarships program and began working alongside the UNFPA upon returning to Vanuatu. Her role includes overseeing the implementation of the Spotlight Initiative; working in partnership with key institutions and diverse partners to strengthen efforts that end violence against women and girls. Symbolically shining a spotlight on barriers that hinder women and girls in development.
“Our approach is multi-sectoral by working with various institutions that deliver a high quality of service and our programs are all inclusive with regards to our target demographic audience being both men, women, boys and girls” stated Roslyn. The approach taken by the UNFPA has involved working with organisations such as Vanuatu Family Health Clinic and the Ministry of Education to ensure changes are long term, influencing generations to come.
By changing the conversation and creating new norms Roslyn believes working with a model that is focused on prevention rather than reaction is an important step when working to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG). “It’s about creating dialogue and a safe space for people of all ages to discuss openly, including the important role parents play when speaking with their children” Roslyn further explains.
Roslyn regards her time as an Australia Awards Scholar as an extremely important component to achieving the Spotlight Initiative’s end vision through her extensive knowledge of the key issues in world politics, international security, foreign affairs and international and regional governance. As a pioneer for positive change, Roslyn will help to directly benefit over 57,000 women, girls, men and boys and will indirectly benefit 331,000 women, girls, men and boys across the nation.