Suva, Fiji – The 2nd Pacific Islands Forum Women Leaders Meeting, held in Suva, Fiji, from August 31-September 1, endorsed the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED) in a momentous gathering. This prestigious event brought together High-Level Women Delegations from all 18 Pacific Island Forum Member States, with Cook Islands Hon. Minister Rose Toki-Brown presiding as Chair.
At the heart of this meeting was the critical consideration of the Revitalized Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED), an initiative initially embraced by Forum Leaders in 2012. This declaration signifies a profound commitment to advancing gender equality in the Pacific region.
In-depth discussions encompassed various pivotal themes. Participants explored the nuanced definition of gender in the Pacific context, highlighting the pressing need to end gender-based violence. Furthermore, the meeting addressed the imperative of enhancing workplace policies, such as maternity and paternity leave entitlements, to ensure equitable opportunities for all.
Through Head of Delegation, Madam Vice President and Minister of Justice J. Uduch Sengebau Senior, Palau underscored the significance of contextualizing gender equality within the rich tapestry of Pacific cultures, traditions, and customs. Moreover, Palau called for a collaborative effort, urging the Secretariat to develop a comprehensive UN Annual work plan in conjunction with SPC and UN Women to champion gender equality and promote coherence in the region.
This gathering also shed light on the transformative potential of gender mainstreaming tools, particularly in addressing multifaceted challenges like climate change and disability. Madam Vice President Senior shared her illuminating experiences from the Women Deliver Conference in Rwanda, where leaders and practitioners from diverse backgrounds converged in pursuit of a more gender-equal and equitable world.
The meeting was marked by a resounding call for robust monitoring and accountability frameworks to guide the indispensable work of gender mainstreaming and its application to the thematic area of ‘Peace and Security’ in the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy. Recognizing the unique vulnerabilities faced by women, particularly in issues like human trafficking, cybersecurity, and the impacts of climate change, Palau emphasized the importance of gender-responsive strategies and the collection of gender-disaggregated data for effective decision-making.
Beyond policy discussions, the event showcased the essential role of women in political leadership. A notable moment during the adoption of the agenda Palau introduced a new agenda item of “SHARING JOURNEYS TO POLITICAL LEADERSHIP which was supported by Minister Kabua of RMI, Ambassador Louisa Wall of New Zealand, and Australia. The agenda was revised to reflect an agenda item called Palau: Talanoa For Women Parliamentarians: Sharing journeys To Political Leadership. This addition recognized the imperative of inclusive spaces for women, including both current and aspiring politicians, to share their experiences and provide mutual support. The need for platforms to bolster women parliamentarians and those aspiring to enter the political arena was emphasized, particularly in light of the underrepresentation of women in political offices across the region.
What truly invigorated this meeting was the active involvement and insightful presentations from Civil Society Organizations, People with Disabilities, and Youth. Their contributions underscored a unified Pacific call for gender equity and equality, resonating across all age groups and marginalized communities.