Women, Peace and Security in the spotlight this week

The Pacific region will be reviewing its agenda on women, peace and security this week in a two-day summit in Samoa this week.

The summit on women, peace and security will address the United Nations work on that agenda, the broader cultural context and how to advance female leadershipIt is being held at Aggie Grey’s Sheraton Hotel and Bungalows.

New Zealand’s Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, is attending and will give a keynote address at the opening. 

Ms. Sepuloni, whose father is from Vailele, became the nation’s first Tongan Member of Parliament in 2008.

On Friday, she will help rededicate and unveil the refurbished memorial to the victims of the 1918 influenza in Vaimoso alongside Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.

The gathering will help launch the Pacific Defence Gender Network, an initiative by The New Zealand Defence Force’s Squadron Leader Libby Reardon, to connect military women in the region.

In April, at the first Pacific Military Women's Advisory Network seminar in Fiji Ms. Reardon said the military needs to address gender based violence and welcome diverse views on peace and security.

The summit is in part based on the United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security which was written in 2000 and highlights women’s exclusion from peace processes. 

It calls for more female participation across all decision making levels, protection of women and girls from sexual and gender based violence, prevention of violence against women and better relief and recovery measures during international crisis according to their needs. 

The summit will also look at monitoring and evaluating the progress on the women, peace and security agenda, and the role of the military, police and civil society in that.

A special session will also look at the agenda in relation to climate change, a concept which is still being developed. 

It will also address relevant action under the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security which was endorsed at last year’s Pacific Islands Forum. Among other things, it affirmed climate change as “the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.”

The declaration also expanded the definition of security and agreed to increase their attention to human security and humanitarian assistance, environmental security, transnational crime and cyber-security. 

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary Dame Meg Taylor is attending the summit. 

Other speakers include New Zealand’s assistant police commissioner, Lauano Sue Schwalger whose father is from Patamea in Savaii, and representatives from Australia and New Zealand’s departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

Representatives from the women’s committees around the country will attend as panellists, as well as Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa, and Togialelei Dr Safua Amaama the director of the Centre of Samoan Studies in the National University of Samoa. 

Samoans Su’a Julia Wallwork from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and the deputy police commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai, will also present.

Military representatives from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Australia will speak.

Countries represented at the Summit include: Australia, Canada, Chile, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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