IFC Training Helps Companies in Fiji Facing Increased Gender-Based Violence Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

IFC will offer world-class training to companies in Fiji facing a likely increase in gender-based violence from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Partnering with the Australia Pacific Training Coalition, IFC will offer a 12-day Train the Trainers Course on workplace responses to gender-based violence. The course, based on IFC’s work with more than 50 businesses in Fiji, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, is targeted at professionals in human resources and business consulting services.

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, gender-based violence affected two in three women in Fiji. While many cases of gender-based violence can go unreported, there are indications of a significant increase since the onset of the pandemic, with for example, 527 calls to Fiji’s national domestic violence helpline in April last year, a significant rise from 87 calls in February and 187 calls in March of the same year. An IFC survey last year found two-thirds of businesses believed the pandemic had increased employees’ experiences of domestic and sexual violence.

“Companies and their employees across the Pacific are contending with the many stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a likely increase in gender-based violence. Investing in training to build safe and resilient workplaces is both good business and the right thing to do,” said IFC Resident Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, Deva De Silva.

The course will instruct professionals on training other staff to address gender-based violence, helping create gender equal and safer workplaces. IFC’s approach to working with companies to address gender-based violence has been tested across the Pacific, helping businesses build safe and resilient workplaces during the pandemic. Many businesses are already benefiting from this work, including in Solomon Islands where IFC conducted training for employees of Bank South Pacific and Solomon Airlines.

“Violence and its many impacts are unacceptable and have no place in society,” said Bank South Pacific Solomon Islands Country Head David Anderson. “Measures taken by Bank South Pacific in Solomon Islands to make our workplace safe and secure have been hugely successful. Our business is stronger, and our employees know their rights and where to get help if they need it. BSP has now taken this approach in all branches and offices in all countries in which it operates.”

With the support of IFC training, national carrier Solomon Airlines has also been proactive in increasing staff awareness and understanding about gender equality and responses to family violence.

“We welcomed the training that IFC sponsored which enabled members of our team to attend workshops on these issues and which led to changes regarding promotion of women and the development of our own company policy regarding violence,” said Brett Gebers, CEO of Solomon Airlines. “Two years on, we have greater trust and mutual respect within our workplace culture, and new skills and procedures to support any staff who may experience this issue outside of the workplace,” he said.

The Train the Trainers Course is designed to teach good business practices in addressing gender-based violence. The first offering will take place in Suva, Fiji, from April 12. Another program will be offered online later in the year to businesses and trainers across the Pacific. 

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