In acknowledging the 2020 International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs hosted a two-day IWD Palau Women Forum from March 10-11, 2020 under the theme of “The Business of Culture and Wellbeing”. In line with national and regional commitments, the Division of Gender under the Bureau of Aging, Disability, and Gender of the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs organized the IWD to raise awareness and promote discussion around issues that are pressing in Palau today. The Palau Gender Mainstreaming Policy is a living document, addressing the diverse needs, concerns, and priorities inclusive and linked national policies such as the Climate Change Policy and national targets and indicators within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The Policy places a great emphasis on the local and cultural context in considering actions toward addressing a social and economic issue. The Policy will guide the process of developing laws, policies, procedures and practices that will address the needs, priorities and aspirations of all Palauan women and men, and young people and children of Palau.

The theme of “The Business of Culture and Wellbeing” is a matter that has been raised in past IWD forums connecting to how customary and family obligation contributes to an employees work performance. Focusing on this theme, panelists were invited to share their views on key issues and messages that employees face with in the workplace that ensures the wellbeing of an employee with his/her family and community.

Currently, there is no mechanism in place for monitoring, implementation of the action plans and or programs that promote women’s and men’s equal access to employment, decent working conditions and/or control over economic resources.

Discussions also focus on specific needs of women including managing customs obligations when owning a business and expanding ways to assist women in the workforce with childcare and other responsibilities for elderly parents or dependent who are living with a disability.

A concrete outcome of the forum is establishing a women in business and workforce network, accelerating the work of gender mainstreaming policy action plan framework and to continue to

engage with leadership, partners in community and school for health and good wellbeing of our children and families.

The first day of the Forum focused on women fishers, tourism and women industry, women in businesses owners and employees, women in civil societies, family protection, policies to employment and labor, time spent at work, proposal for four day work week, child care at work, women responsibilities and roles in the workplace and outside of workplace.

President Remengesau delivered his keynote remarks by reminding the women delegates and participants that “we still have parity and equality of our lives in Palau through our cultural values and principles as Palauans and it shows in our cultural practices from marriages, child birth ceremonies and funerals. This still exists because of the unique and close responsibilities of Palauan women, men, families and clans – this is the beauty of life as Palauan. I get emotional not so much because I see the problem, but more or so because I see the potential of what we can leave for our children – the unique culture that has been implanted in us when we were born and has been taught to us by our parents and grandparents, and their parents”.

For the past three years, the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs in conjunction with our Gender Mainstreaming Policy, have successfully hosted the Palau International Women’s Day with partnerships from the national and state Governments, civil societies and businesses, and with support from the Office of the President and Government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

For more information about the IWD Forum in Palau, please contact the Division of Gender, at the Bureau of Aging, Disability and Gender, MCCA at 488-2575.