Honourable Co-Chairs and colleagues. First I would like to thank the Secretariat for developing a terms of reference which adequately captures the purpose of the EWEC Steering Group. It is flexible enough to accommodate the transition of the Steering Group in the future.
Recognising the global commitments including the SDGs, I would like to draw your attention to the SAMOA Pathway, an internationally agreed instrument that promotes gender equality and women’s, children and adolescent health in the context of some of the most vulnerable countries in the world, the Small Island Developing States.
As High Level Advisory Group Members we need to identify how best to translate the key elements of the Global Strategy “Survive”, “Thrive” and “Transform” in our communities so that they penetrate our regional and national planning, budgeting and monitoring processes and resonate in tangible actions at country level.
I note that the support from my region on the Global Strategy has been slow but I emphasise our strong commitment to improving the lives of our women and girls through annual reporting to our Leaders on the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration. I will share our 2012-2016 Trend Assessment Report when finalised
For many Pacific Island Countries, implementation of health policies remain a challenge due to our geographical isolation, poor infrastructure, limited capacities, lack of gender, children and youth specific data and sustained financing to support health systems and programmes. We must invest heavily in disaggregated data collection, analysis and dissemination to ensure targeted interventions.
The high levels of stigma attached to reproductive health issues coupled with cultural attitudes create barriers for women and other vulnerable groups in accessing basic services. This is further challenged during disasters and as a result of slow on-set impacts of climate change particularly in our smaller island states.
This year, our Pacific Leaders considered how collective regional action through bulk procurement and sharing screening and related equipment could help address the unacceptably high cervical cancer rates in the Pacific.
In the Pacific, we will take ownership and accountability for the EWEC Strategy and actions by integrating it into our regional SDGs / SAMOA Pathway and our Framework for Pacific Regionalism, Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration regional monitoring and accountability processes.
As a member of this Group I will use every strategic opportunity to advocate Every Woman Every Child in regional and national level engagements and initiatives for cervical cancer, ending violence against women, economic empowerment of women, the SDGs and the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration.
I look forward to engaging in the EWEC COP 22 events in Marrakech to elevate global advocacy on this important issue particularly in the context of fragile and humanitarian settings, a reality for many of us.
I will reach out to the H6 partners to support me in this role by providing information on technical support delivered in my region, including sharing of data and information on key regional events that can provide the platform for advocacy in the Pacific
Finally, I will share a commit letter with my Pacific Leaders to encourage them to commit to the Global Strategy in the context of our Pacific Leaders Gender Declaration and SDGs Roadmap.
More information on the Every Woman Every Child Movement