FSM First Lady Maurina Christian Launches the FSM Family Health and Safety Study
The FSM First Lady Mrs. Maurina Christian launched the first ever Family Health and Safety Study during the Opening Ceremony of the Fourth FSM National Women Conference on October 3, 2016. The FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs completed the study in 2014 with technical support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and with funding support from the Australian Government.
In her launching message the First lady said the study confirms what we already know, that our peaceful and loving island country is not free from this worldwide pandemic of violence against women. “Violence can come to women and children in our part of the Pacific can come in the form of physical, sexual, and psychological violence.”
While this may be known, the she cautioned that all too often we are reluctant to admit. “In our society, such acts of violence are often not disclosed because of our customs or because we believe that such violence are normal.” The findings of this study must make us stand united and strong to change.
“We must also admit that violence against women and children can have severe consequences on the health and wellbeing of those abused. Violence must not be tolerated, whether here in Yap or in the FSM, or anywhere mothers and children become innocent victims of domestic violence.”
President Hilda Haine of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) shared with the conference the insufficient enforcement, limited allocation of resources, inadequate reporting, lack of support services and persistent stereotypical gender and social norms underpin this ongoing crisis. She noted that RMI women in public sector and NGOs have made critical steps to deal with the issue of violence against women.
President of the Yap Women Association, Mrs. Laura Ngaden in her remarks to the conference plenary highlighted the importance of bringing to the forefront issues relating to health and wellbeing of the family. We can no longer depend on the experts and practitioners alone to do it for us; we must make it our own and find solutions. “This we owe it to our children and their children” she said.
President of the Neighboring Island Women Association (NIWA) Mrs. Regina Raigetal echoed sentiments of other conference participants and said, the launching was historical in that it was the first time ever for the nation’s First Lady to address not just leaders but women groups throughout the nation on such issues.
Attending the conference opening are His Excellency Peter M. Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Her Excellency Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Yap State Governor, Speaker of the Yap State Legislature, other Yap State leaders including traditional leaders, Secretary Magdalena Walter and women group leaders and advocates. Development Partners were also represented at the opening including Australian Ambassador to FSM and representatives from the US Embassy in FSM, SPC, UN Joint Presence Office, and IOM.