Transforming Awareness: Using Sports and Tech to Fight Gender-Based Violence in the Pacific

July 9, 2024

Stop Gender-Based Violence in the Pacific

UNDP Pacific

At UNDP Pacific, we are committed to harnessing digital technologies to address complex social issues in the Pacific region. Our aim is to promote inclusive and sustainable development, strengthen governance, and foster economic growth while always putting people first. We recognize that when used thoughtfully, digital tools can be powerful catalysts for positive change in areas such as public service delivery, digital literacy, and addressing emerging social challenges.

Digital transformation offers immense opportunities, including increased access to education, income-generating opportunities, and improvements in the efficiency and delivery of public services to drive progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, digitalization should not be treated as a panacea, as it also brings with it potential harms, including a proliferation of mis and disinformation, the use of technology for hate speech and abuse, and a heightened vulnerability to scams, phishing and ransomware.

With funding support from the European Union (EU) Delegation in the Pacific, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji has embarked on the Pacific Digital Democracy Initiative (PDDI). This ambitious project aims to advance digital transformation through comprehensive capacity building programmes to civil society organisations (CSOs) and government, while also developing new mechanisms to combat online harms and emerging threats.

Real-time Engagement and Feedback:

As part of the PDDI project, we have initiated a policy study on online manifestations of gender-based violence (GBV), and strategies to combat it. The Pacific region faces one of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in the world, with up to 68% of Pacific women reporting that they have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

While existing data of GBV in Pacific countries are well-documented, with thanks to efforts from UN Women and other development partners, there remains limited data on demographic characteristics of population profiles with different levels of acceptance and attitudes toward GBV.

The scourge of GBV is certainly not new. However, what sets PDDI’s approach apart from prior studies is the unique partnership with local sports teams, content creators and CSOs. With the support of a Senior Data scientist, these key stakeholders will work together to design targeted communications messages, to be disseminated through the Fijian Drua’s social media accounts. These will include videos, infographics, and other materials designed to raise awareness of GBV and to help clamp down on permissive attitudes towards it.

As a popular sports team, the Fijian Drua has a wide fan base (close to 54,000 followers on Facebook alone) that represents diverse segments of the population. By collaborating with the Fijian Drua, the project will have access to a unique platform to reach and engage with these populations. UNDP will work closely with the Fijian Drua to develop advocacy and communication products and key messaging, ensuring that these are culturally and contextually appropriate.

Subsequently, and based on engagement with these communications products, further materials will be developed with the aim of isolating the most impactful awareness and advocacy strategies. This iterative, active, and real-time approach to research and policy assistance contrasts substantially with prior, passive approaches toward measuring and researching GBV prevalence.

Building Community Resilience: 

However, without keen attention toward sustainability and knowledge transfer, the wider implications of this policy study would be lost. Our collaboration with CSOs ensures that messages are culturally relevant, specific and sensitive to the unique context in Fiji and Pacific nations more broadly. Similarly, our partnership with local content creators reflects our commitment to authenticity and is a testament to the role the creative arts can play in tackling complex social issues.

But our commitment to local capacity development extends to workshops conducted by PDDI’s Senior Data Scientist. These sessions empower CSOs to utilize data analytics tools to improve the impact and reach of their own advocacy campaigns.


As we move forward with this exciting initiative, we are excited to make a potentially meaningful impact on the lives on those affected by GBV. Our approach, blending community engagement, technology, and innovative partnerships, serves as a model to tackle complex issues in a connected world, and we invite you to join us on this journey.

Amidst growing digital threats, community-driven and technologically enabled solutions offer a beacon of hope.

By integrating sports, content creation, civil society, and data science, we are pioneering a new approach toward combatting GBV, aimed at empowering individuals and fostering a culture of digital safety and respect.

This project exemplifies our commitment to leveraging digital technologies for tangible social impact in the Pacific. Our objectives include enhancing digital skills across various sectors of society, improving digital governance, and addressing emerging challenges like online gender-based violence. 

By adopting an inclusive approach and fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders, we aim to bridge critical gaps in the Pacific's digital landscape. 

Ultimately, our goal is to create a more inclusive, resilient, and prosperous digital future for all Pacific peoples, where technology serves as a tool for empowerment and positive social change.