WCCC wins Human Rights Award!

13/12/2010 09:21

The Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) has
received a prestigious Human Rights Award for advancing gender
equality in the Pacific.

Issued by the Regional Rights Resource Team and the Secretariat of the
Pacific Counsel in partnership with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre,
WCCC won the organisation category and were awarded $5,000 FJD.

The individual category of the Human Rights Awards was won by Jacqui
Koroi (Fiji) for her focus on working on the rights of young women,
Lily Kolts Be'Soer (Papua New Guinea) for peace initiatives and
highlighting the impact of conflict on women and children and
Sainimili Tawake (Fiji) for leadership, commitment and promotion of
issues of women and girls with disabilities.

The centre has only just celebrated its first birthday –the year has
seen a record number of over 300 clients through the door, the first
reported case of sex trafficking and the establishment of progressive
approaches to addressing the causes of violence. It’s topped off with
winning the Pacific Human Rights Award “It is an absolute honour” said
WCCC Director, Ofa-ki-levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki “to acknowledge all
the hard work that our staff have done this year to eliminate violence
against women in Tonga.”

Speaking on behalf of the panel of judges, Ms Sarah Goulding
Counsellor Development Co-operation (Fiji and Tuvalu) said the breadth
of nominations was outstanding and varied. 'The nominees have
advocated in favour of the peaceful resolution of conflict, young
girls empowerment and for democracy, free speech and public
accountability. They have put at risk their personal safety and
financial security, and have persevered when their goals seemed
unattainable. They are committed women's human rights defenders."

WCCC Director Guttenbeil-Likiliki points to the work that the staff of
WCCC have performed around culturally taboo issues in a time of
financial difficulty “All of the staff have been relying on donations
and one off payments, with many periods of volunteering. It is
demanding work, but we are all here to provide support for survivors
of violence. It is only due to the support of the wider community that
we have been able to exist – with very few resources, the amount we
have been able to achieve this year has been impressive”. As yet the
financial future of the Crisis Centre is uncertain.

Some of the achievements of the centre this year include training over
30 men to advocate for women’s human rights, advocating for
ratification of the UN Convention on Elimination of Descrimination
Against Women (CEDAW), performing legal advocacy that led to improved
outcomes for sexual assault victim and conducting over 30 community
awareness programs, including in high schools. The centre continues to
provide 24 hour counselling and a safe house for those seeking refuge
from violence.

The centre has also utilised the media in innovative ways to improve
the understanding of the realities of women in Tonga. They produced a
documentary, Girls Ask, which aired young girls concerns in light of
Tonga’s historic elections, and produced Pink Hibiscus a piece about a
survivor of an incest case. The centre also came second in the Tonga
Family Health World Aids Day Short Film competition, and have
continually commented on issues that concern the rights of women and
children.

The Crisis Centre was presented with their award by Valda Horder from
the RRRT to mark International Human Rights Day “this award
acknowledges the outstanding work and commitment of the staff of WCCC
to women’s human rights” said Horder. This year's event was supported
by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and
the New Zealand Agency for International Development.

Guttenbeil-Likiliki proudly accepted the award “It is great to receive
recognition for the work that we do to improve the quality of life for
all women and children in Tonga, with many thanks to the entire
community that made it possible.”