Side-event focuses on gender and rights

Government officials from the region’s Small Islands Development States (SIDS) and development partners met in Apia recently for the Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting on the Mid-Term review of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway. 

Among the priorities in the SAMOA Pathway are gender equality and women’s empowerment, social development, health, economic growth with decent work for all, climate change, sustainable energy, disaster risk reduction, oceans and seas, water and sanitation and implementation of durable and sustainable partnerships. 

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convened a side-event on “ICPD Implementation in the Pacific: SAMOA Pathway Partnership Actions in Health, Gender, Youth and Climate Change”.  

The participants shared key actions for implementing national priorities in the areas of reproductive health, gender, youth and climate change. 

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The side-event was moderated by Bruce Campbell, the UNFPA’s Pacific Sub-Regional Office director.  The panellists included Vaito’a Toelupe (technical adviser, Samoa Fa’afafine Association), Loukinikini Vili, (director human rights, Samoa National Human Rights Institution) and Maria Sapatu (programme officer, Conservation International, Samoa).  

The event generated discussions on the role of culture in improving gender equality, offered an avenue to voice the concerns of the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression) and LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) community and discussed the ever-increasing concerns on human rights and family violence, particularly in the Pacific region.

The side event provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate how national efforts, investments and interventions in these priority areas have progressed in the context of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals from the perspective of civil society through young women working in climate change, the LGBTQI+ community and human rights institutions. The ICPD Programme of Action, adopted in 1994, took a human rights approach to addressing population and development dynamics. The ICPD goals focused on reduction of infant, child and maternal mortality and the achievement of universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning. The dialogue at the side event reiterated the ICPD as relevant, timeless and foundational to the 2030 SDG agenda and its aspiration to leave no one behind.  The ICPD was instrumental in recognising that reproductive health is a basic human right and universal access to sexual and reproductive health is fundamental to sustainable development of Small Island Development States.

During the closing remarks, Mr. Campbell said their work strives to empower individuals, families and the communities.

“All the work that we support, prior to and during pregnancy through childhood and adolescence to adulthood, aims to ensure that individuals, families and communities are empowered to make key life choices from a rights-based perspective.”

“When young people, and particularly young women, can make these choices on an informed basis, we lay the foundation for attaining the sustainable development goals,” he said in a statement.

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