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Welcome Remarks by Deputy Secretary General Andie Fong Toy at the Launch of the Pacific Women Inaugural Progress Report



Launch of the Pacific Women Inaugural Progress Report
Monday 7 December 2015, 1730-1830
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Welcome Remarks by Deputy Secretary General Andie Fong Toy


[Introduction]

Hon. Steven Ciobo, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and Honourable Members of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia,
Hon Rosy Akbar, Minister for Women, Children & Poverty Alleviation, and members of the Fiji delegation,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, development partners, UN Agencies and CROP Agencies,
Friends and colleagues

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you this evening to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. At the outset I would like to convey both the apologies and very best wishes of our Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor. Dame Meg is currently in Paris for COP21.

We are honoured to co-host tonight’s launch of the inaugural progress report of Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. This launch represents an important milestone in this significant, indeed ground-breaking initiative.

[Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration]

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development represents a vital mechanism for progressing the suite of commitments made by Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum in their Gender Equality Declaration of 2012. This Declaration was a historic step for the Forum, a mature acknowledgement that gender equality must be prioritised on the regional political agenda.

In this Declaration, Leaders recognised that ‘improved gender equality will make a significant contribution to creating a prosperous, stable and secure Pacific for all current and future generations’. And Leaders further stated their ‘determination and invigorated commitment to efforts to lift the status of women in the Pacific and empower them to be active participants in economic, political and social life’.

Since 2012, Leaders have annually reviewed the progress that has been made in achieving the priority areas identified under the Declaration. These areas are: progressing gender responsive policies and programmes; increasing women’s participation in decision-making; empowering women’s economic circumstances; ending violence against women; and ensuring gender parity in education and women’s health. This progress has been documented through the Pacific Regional Millennium Development Goals Tracking Reports which the Forum Secretariat has developed in cooperation with a wide range of partners.

The 2015 Report finds that overall, progress has improved from 2014, with an increased number of gender responsive initiatives implemented through national development plans and gender policies in most Forum Island Countries. There has been notable progress on gender equality in three of the six key Declaration areas, i.e., gender responsive policies and programmes, gender parity on education, and ending violence against women. However, there has been less progress in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, and sexual reproductive and health services. As observed in the report, better performance will require the participation of a wide range of actors and agencies, including national women’s machineries, parliaments, education, and justice and law enforcement agencies.

The report being launched this evening will also provide an invaluable resource in documenting the progress and impact of the wide range of work being undertaken by Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. We all know the saying ‘knowledge is power’ and I think it is extremely apt for our collective endeavour in promoting gender equality in the Pacific. Our knowledge of what works, and what doesn’t is a critical asset which must be shared for the benefit and empowerment of everyone working to lift the status of women in our region. I commend the commitment of Pacific Women Shaping Development to sharing their experiences for the benefit of the broader community.

[Partnerships]

Improving gender equality in the Pacific is complex and challenging. Which makes partnerships vital, bringing together different ideas and resources to address multi-dimensional issues. In this regard, I would like to acknowledge the excellent relationship we, the Forum Secretariat, have with Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. I have the privilege of being a member of its Advisory Board, which contributes to the design and development of the regional programme. As a member of the Advisory Board, I have challenged Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development to make a real difference to the lives of the women and girls in our region. 

[Closing remarks]

In concluding, I would like to convey the Forum Secretariat’s congratulations to Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development in developing this report of their first three years, a report which will provide important guidance for future gender equality work in the region.

We look forward to hearing in more detail tonight your stories, your milestones and your lessons learned. We all have so much to learn, as well as to offer to each other, in our joint endeavour to transform the commitments under the Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration into practical changes that all women of the Pacific can benefit from.

Thank you very much.




 

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