SUVA, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat and the European Union (EU) signed on Thursday an agreement to tackle gender inequality and violence against women and girls in the Pacific region.
According to a press release from the PIF Secretariat on Thursday, the financing agreement worth 13 million euros (15.5 million U.S. dollars) was inked in the Samoan capital of Apia by Secretary General of the PIF Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor and Director for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and the Pacific at the European Commission's Department for International Cooperation and Development Pierre Amilhat.
Both of them are in Apia to attend the 48th PIF Leaders Meeting which kicked off on Tuesday.
Australia will provide an additional 6.5 million Australian dollars (5.2 million U.S. dollars) to this program, to strengthen the EU-Australia cooperation to support Pacific responses to gender inequality in the region.
The program will support activities at the regional level.
Taylor acknowledged the EU's recognition of the importance of tackling the root causes of gender inequality and violence against women and girls in the Pacific region.
She also commended the EU for supporting the 2012 Forum Leaders Gender Equality Declaration which was adopted in the Cook Islands.
Amilhat reaffirmed the role of the EU as a reliable partner of the Pacific and highlighted its commitment to jointly tackling gender inequality in the Pacific region.
"Together, we must work to enhance awareness and practice of respectful relationships, ensure equal opportunities in life for women, men, girls and boys, and increase access to relevant services for women and girls who have suffered violence," said Amilhat.
The program is co-financed through the 11th European Development Fund (13 million euros), the Australian government (6.5 million Australian dollars) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (750,000 U.S. dollars).
It will be implemented over six years by UN Women, the PIF Secretariat and the Pacific Community (SPC).