Pacific pathway for gender equality accepted

Pacific Ministers for women have endorsed priorities to accelerate progress towards achieving gender equality within the region at a recent regional conference.

The current state of women’s human rights in the region was also highlighted at the conclusion of the 7th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women. The conference followed the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women. 

The outcomes of the Ministerial conference focused on recommendations under three priority themes: women’s economic empowerment; gender-responsive climate justice and gender-based violence (G.B.V.) according to a joint media release issued by the Suva-based Pacific Community.

With the overarching theme of the series of meetings titled "Our Ocean, Our Heritage, Our Future – Empowering All Women in the Blue Pacific Continent", deliberations were also focused on the ocean as being inseparable from Pacific peoples, cultures, economies and societies, and a source of cultural and material empowerment.

The conference host, French Polynesia’s Minister for Women, Isabelle Sachet said that the region has much to celebrate with the progress of gender equality but a lot of work remains. 

“The added challenges of COVID-19 and climate change on women and girls within our various countries will make our work even harder,” she said.

She added that, however, that the region's ministers for women had taken a bold step by accepting the outcomes document from the conference.

“In three years’ time we will look back at this process and what we agreed on through this virtual meeting with pride.”

The Director General of the Pacific Community, Dr Stuart Minchin echoed Ms. Sachet’s statement, saying: “The focus that you all showed today is a testament on the key priority that your governments place on addressing gender equality in our region."

He added that there needs to be greater ownership of the outcomes document.

“We need to work together to ensure that we bring life to its words. The commitment shown by you during the conference and in today’s Ministerial Meeting reassures me that you have every intention to take ownership.”

The outcomes document is now being confirmed by countries and territories that participated in the conference and the Ministerial Conference. 

The conference called on governments, with the assistance of civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (C.R.O.P.) agencies, development partners, and the private sector to implement the following specific actions.

First, to adopt measures to increase women’s participation in all levels of leadership and decision-making including political representation, senior positions in the public and private sector and within local and communal governance systems. 

As well as supporting ongoing efforts of the private sector in creating and strengthening leadership pathways for women and demonstrating their capacity as leaders to shift social norms.

Secondly, to implement policies, legislation and gender-responsive budgets in compliance with agreed regional and international standards and conventions to address disparities with regard to women’s access and opportunities in all fields of economic activity; proactively expand opportunities for women to participate in critical sectors and industries; equally acknowledge, value and remunerate women’s work in all fields. 

This includes investing in and strengthen contextualised, evidence based G.B.V. prevention programmes that work with children and young people, and ensuring that violence prevention is integrated into formal and informal education curricula. 

It also includes a focus on balanced G.B.V. efforts which include prevention programmes, survivor response services, criminal justice system responses, support for survivors, and rehabilitation efforts for perpetrators.

Finally, ensuring women and other marginalised groups meaningfully participate in all stages of the design and implementation of national and sectoral policies, strategies and plans relating to climate change and disaster risk management and that such policies, strategies and plans are gender-responsive and include gender indicators.

The conference also confirmed the Republic of Marshall Islands as the host for the 15th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and the 8th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women.

The 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women was convened by the S.P.C. and hosted and chaired by French Polynesia.

The Conference was a hybrid virtual event with over 1000 registrants connecting from different locations across the Pacific, reflecting the immense interest the journey of Pacific women of all diversities towards equality. 

Participants included Pacific island country and territory (P.I.C.T.) government delegations, civil society representatives, development partners, academia, private sector, and other stakeholders from within the Blue Pacific continent and beyond.

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