Lululeen Santos, is the Pacific Women Lead at SPC’s Country Focal Point, Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW), based in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). She works closely with communities and all State Governments in FSM, to assist with their EVAW initiatives.
Lululeen Santos’ work to end violence against women (EVAW) is driven by the lived realities of women and girls in her community who experience violence − an issue kept ‘behind closed doors’.
“This is an issue that is difficult to talk about in FSM. It’s hard to have conversations about violence against women and girls because there are taboo attached and stigma,” she said.
“This is what challenges me, and this is what drives me. I am in a place where I can influence change and this will enable me to better serve the people especially the women and girls in FSM,” Lululeen added.
In her role as EVAW Country Focal Point, Lululeen leads in-country administration, technical advice, stakeholder consultation and coordination.
“My interest and passion came from hearing stories from survivors of domestic violence or sexual violence,” she said.
“I have been involved in this work since 2008, and I made sure to use EVAW or addressing gender-based violence, or GBV, as a platform to bring to light the issues affecting women in FSM.”
Lululeen also carries an intergenerational legacy; her mother’s contributions to communities in Pohnpei and some of its communities was also a contributing factor for Lululeen to work within the space of gender empowerment.
“She would always try to help people - she would volunteer her time and efforts to help them. This got me really interested in working within communities to help the women and the EVAW space,” she said.
She said efforts to increase the awareness on violence against women in FSM is progressing slowly.
“While laws for Family Protection/Domestic Violence have been passed for Kosrae and Pohnpei state, Chuuk and Yap’s proposed legislations are still with their respective legislatures,” she said.
“I look forward to the issue of EVAW progressing a lot further so that everyone can be more aware and necessary steps are taken to help address this issue,” she said.
For Lululeen, she looks forward to working with Pacific Women Lead at SPC’s Human Rights & Social Development and continue to support stakeholders both in government and civil society to help make progresses in addressing violence against women and girls in FSM.
Serving the women and girls of FSM motivates Lululeen to bring the issue of violence against women to the policy and implementation table.
“I feel very empowered to help make progress within the EVAW space and see what I can support with in the coming months,” she said.
About Pacific Women Lead:
One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts.
The Pacific Women Lead (PWL) programme at the Pacific Community (SPC), termed PWL at SPC, has more than AUD 55 million dedicated to its work under the Australian Government’s AUD 170 million Pacific Women Lead portfolio. This partnership with the Australian Government commits SPC to deliver the PWL programme, as the cornerstone for the portfolio.
By Vilimaina Naqelevuki