in Palau through a National Forum Focusing on Men and Women Eldebechel in our Communities

In celebration of the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD), the Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Justice hosted a one-day IWD Palau Women Forum on March 8, 2022 at the Sea Passion Hotel.  The theme for this year’s IWD is “Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Future”. International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th each year and it is celebrated intentionally, regionally and at the local level. Ministry of Justice Female Police Officers commemorated this IWD 2022 event by taking over the work of the patrol with many motorists noticing that all police officers on the road doing patrol, responding to reports/incidents and manning the ambulance on that day were female police officers.  Also, in celebration of IWD 2022, many offices and agencies featured their female employees and helped raise awareness on Gender Equality #breakthebias2022, including Koror State Government and Koror State Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement, Palau Red Cross Society, Palau NOC, Bank of Guam, Australian Embassy and Taiwan Embassy.

The IWD National Forum, which recorded about 70 participants, focused on the sustainability of our traditional men and women’s groups (cheldebechel ra sechal ma redil) in all communities of the 16 States. Vice President and Minister of Justice the Honorable J. Uduch Sengebau Senior opened the forum with this statement: “You know, we are a truly blessed people to have ancestors so in tune with the land and sea and life in general to build a society based around the familial love and spirit of omesiou of Palauan women, with set practices in order to respond to changes in the environment and even climate and also urged everyone present at the forum to appreciate and learn the traditional Palauan ways of climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all people of Palau. Australia’s Ambassador to Palau Her Excellency Richelle Turner in her special remarks reiterated Australia’s goal and mission to support Women Empowerment and Gender Equality across the Pacific. 

Ambassador Turner made special recognition to two female Marine Law Officers as “two young women breaking the bias and working towards a career in maritime surveillance at Marine Law”.  Minister of State the Honorable Gustav N. Aitaro noted in his special remarks that “Palauan Women are the pillars of our society”.  The Forum featured leaders of various community traditional and non-traditional women and men’s groups who took the panel to talk about the origins and history of their cheldebechel, the good practices as well as challenges, and how they plan to sustain the membership of their cheldebchel.  Discussions also focused on specific needs of women including secrets of planting taro (kukau) and maintaining the taro patch. Panelist Carol Emaurois representing NgaraUngiang of Choll shared the best breed of Kukau saying that “Dungersuul a kot el ungil kukau, leng mesisiich ra delkimes e ungil el demok “. 

By sharing about their respective cheldebechel, the panelists interacted with the audience to fully understand each other in terms of best practices and challenges.  Also presented as panelists were Orrukem Demk of Ngaraokelout, Ngardmau, Kerungil Tellei of Ngaraotellouch, Melekeok, Loretta Kintoki of Sonsorol Women’s Association, Lorenza Olkeriil of Ngarasikereu, Ngiwal, Uwai Skebong of Ngarangmui, Airai, and Omecheroll Simer of Ngarayolt, Aimeliik. 

The full-day forum of sharing and discussions ended with everyone having learned about the importance of the various men and women groups or “eldebechel” in our communities and the critical contributions these “eldebechel” bring to our sustainability as a people and as a nation. Happy International Women’s Day Palau.  The event was supported through the Ministry of State in conjunction with our Gender Mainstreaming Policy, Office of the Vice President and with the support from the Australia Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

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