Samoa recently hosted the first regional discussions on the rights of women and girls for members of the Asia Pacific Forum (A.P.F).
Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions (H.N.R.I.) from the region gathered for a two-day roundtable discussion to address issues that affect women and girls in the Pacific, and to exchange ideas on how to promote gender equality.
A.P.F. human rights project and planning manager, Faso Aishath, said members focused not only on issues facing women and girls, but also the root causes and challenges around solving them.
“Our goal for this (meeting) is how N.H.R.I. can address these issues, and what [their] role is in this space in working for women and girls’ human rights,” she said.
Faso said she has been really encouraged to see senior female leadership representing the nations on the cusp of establishing human rights institutions.
“Even government representatives have been talking about the limitations they have, and talking about a lack of Government commitment is a courageous thing to talk about.
“They (delegates) are definitely not holding back, but it’s important to recognise that it’s not easy to be doing such work.”
Specific cultural contexts and small populations, which are both dispersed and diverse bring many challenges to raising the level of human rights for women and girls in the pacific, she said.
By sharing and exchanging information, participants learned from each other’s experiences and strategies and build partnerships between each other.
The Samoa Office of the Ombudsman human rights director, Loukinikini Vili, said she is eager to learn from Australia and New Zealand’s experiences with their work on family violence.
The report from their national inquiry into family violence will be released next week. Australia, New Zealand and Samoa are A.P.F. accredited members with established H.N.R.Is, while the Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Nauru are in the process of establishing institutions.