2018 FEMM: Update On Regional Progress On Economic Empowerment Of Women




25-27 April 2018

Koror, Palau

Summary of Issue
This paper has been prepared by the Forum Secretariat to provide an update on the progress, challenges and planned actions to accelerate the implementation of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED) and Forum Economic Ministers decisions on the economic empowerment of women in the Pacific.


  1. Update on the 2017 FEMM Decision on Women’s Economic Empowerment

In 2017 FEMM tasked the Forum Secretariat to develop a regional methodology to track the allocation of resources for women’s economic empowerment. As a result, the Secretariat, working with UNESCAP and UN WOMEN convened a Regional Gender Responsive Budget Workshop for national representatives from Finance and National Women’s Office in June 2017. The workshop considered global tools for tracking the resourcing of gender equality and highlighted the need for further technical capacity building at both national and regional levels.

  1. Within the context of the FEMM decision, the PLGED and the implementation of the SDGs in the region, the workshop highlighted the need for greater capacity to analyse national public expenditure, policy appraisal and evaluation. It also identified opportunities to leverage existing national efforts in planning and policy processes to develop and embed gender indicators to be supported by development partners. The workshop also highlighted the need to develop practical tools and policy guidelines for approaching gender-based budgeting across the region. Additional resources to support the pilot testing of this work in the three sub-regions will be required and the Forum Secretariat will establish a technical task force comprising technical agencies and three country representatives from finance and gender departments and ministries to develop and finalise the gender responsive budgeting methodology. Ministers to note the financial and specialist technical resource implications relating to this substantive work


  1. Forum Leaders Priorities and progress on improving women’s economic opportunities


  1. Development opportunities for Women in the fisheries sector


  1. In 2015 Forum Leaders agreed that a joint taskforce would lead the development of a programme to increase the sustainable economic returns of fisheries. A Fisheries Taskforce, consisting of the Forum Fisheries Agency, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement Office, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat was established in 2016 to develop a programme delivering on this tasking from Leaders. The subsequent programme endorsed by Leaders in 2016 has four priority areas: (i) reform of the management of longline fishery; (ii) increasing the value of employment and ensuring effective labour standards are in place; (iii) facilitating investment and trade; and (iv) value chain participation.


  1. Priority areas (ii), (iii) and (iv) will provide a strong platform for including economic and social opportunities for women in the fisheries sector. Forum Fisheries Agency has commissioned training programmes for women in the Tuna processing industry which are designed to allow the opportunity for women to move into more senior roles and allow improved access to job promotion. The Pacific Community (SPC) supports the network of women in fisheries and has a range of projects that aims at removing barriers to allow women to work more broadly in the fisheries and aquaculture sector including increased opportunities for leadership and decision making. The programmes mentioned above are the initiatives taken by the two organisations in support of the economic empowerment of women.  However, given its importance to the Leaders, the issue was also discussed as agenda item 6 during Fisheries Taskforce meeting that was held in October 2017.  The purpose of having it on the agenda, was to have it impeded into the work programme of the Fisheries Taskforce.


  1. Trade Policy Initiatives that promote women’s economic empowerment


  1. In 2017, the Forum Secretariat established a non-binding instrument to guide the mainstreaming of trade policies across all the stakeholder groups, involved in trade – including Women. The guide provides an adaptive trade policy mainstreaming process map which recognises the differential capacities and context and proposes targeted actions aimed at improving women’s participation in trade policy decision making processes.


  1. International trade and trade agreements affect women and men differently. Trade differentially affects individuals and groups through changes to employment and wages, government revenues, and process of goods. In turn, the decisions of governments, firms, and households all influence the nature and extent of these changes for women and for men. Particular issue affecting our region is the lack of gender-disaggregated data inhibiting formulation of gender-impact assessment on trade. Through the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade adopted at the recent 11th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Argentina in December 2017 Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade (attached as Annex 1) selected WTO members[1] committed globally to remove barriers to and in fostering women’s economic empowerment through their increased participation in trade. Under the Declaration, WTO members will scrutinize their own policies through a gender lense via information exchanges, as appropriate, and voluntary reporting during the WTO trade policy review process; and find ways to work together to increase women’s participation and access to trade markets as an important driver for women’s economic empowerment and leadership expressed in the PLGED and FEMM Action Plans.


  1. In the region and building on existing partnerships, the Pacific Trade and Invest (PT&I) network and the University of Goroka will be implementing a project to further support women producers of Bilum in PNG highlands. The purpose of this partnership is to provide businesswomen with the capacity to capitalise on potential opportunities to participate in formal markets through trade opportunities that aim at improving livelihoods and poverty reduction for women in these communities.


  1. 2017-2018 Regional Projections on Women’s Economic Empowerment


  1. Regional Reports


  1. In 2016 the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration Trend Assessment Report noted positive developments in the areas of financial inclusion for women, increasing number of women contributing to superannuation funds (including in a few countries from the informal sector), improved financial literacy and provision of maternity leave in the public service. According to Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Annual Progress Report 2016-2017 5,964 women as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Programmes in the region have access to financial literacy training and financial services.


  1. Notwithstanding the above progress, member countries as part of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Trend Assessment Report 2012-2016 reported the following challenges including gender pay disparities, legal protection for women in the informal sector, legal, policy and social barriers for women to access economic and employment opportunities including land, credit and resources needs for sustainability of business and enterprise. Additional barriers to achieving women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific included archaic labour regulations and laws, gendered norms at the workplace resulting in occupational segregation, limited access to leadership and decision making opportunities, lack of recognition and economic value placed on women’s care and domestic (unpaid) work and security related issues including the impact of violence against women and girls and their participation in economic life.


  1. Women continue to be under-represented in state owned enterprise boards and unchanged over 4 years with women’s representation on boards remaining 27% since the adoption of the Declaration. The budgetary allocation towards national women office remains less than 1% and overall budgetary allocation towards gender equality and women’s economic empowerment remains poorly tracked.[2]


  1. The Pacific Women Shaping Pacific (PWSPD) Annual Progress Report 2016-2017 highlighted progress on the Government of Australia’s investment of $320 million over 10 years, to improving gender equality in the Pacific region. The report noted the implementation of 25 targeted activities to ensure women have expanded opportunities to earn an incomes and accumulate economic assets.


  1. Regional Meetings


  1. Following the 13th Triennial of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women held from 2-5 October, 2017 in Suva, Fiji Ministers adopted the Pacific Platform for Action for Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights 2018-2030” which aims at accelerating the implementation of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration. In particular, the platform for action seeks to


  • Knowledge – Enhance the generation of knowledge to inform policies and decision-making, build capacities, and support advocacy for gender equality.


  • Mainstreaming – Increase efforts to mainstream gender perspective across all legislation, policies, programmes and services delivered by government, CROP agencies and CSOs.


  • Partnerships – Develop and strengthen effective partnerships between governments, institutions, CSOs, the private sector and FBOs, so that women and men of all ages across all levels of society are empowered as individuals and communities to prevent violence and all forms of discrimination.


  •  Investment – Mobilise resources and sustain investment to advance gender equality.


  • Accountability – Establish mechanisms and systems to make stakeholders accountable for implementing commitments on gender equality and the human rights of all women and girls, including through harmonised monitoring and reporting.


  1. 2018 Full Report on the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration and 2019 Thematic Report


  1. In accordance with the 2016 Forum Leaders decision, the Forum Secretariat is working on the next report against the PLGED as part of the 2018 Pacific Regional Sustainable Development Report (PRSD) to ensure integrated reporting on gender equality and development at the regional level. A detailed update and list of recommendations relating to future reporting on the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration is made in the FEMM paper prepared by the Secretariat on “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SAMOA Pathway”.


  1. For future thematic report as part of the PRSD it is recommended that the PLGED focus remains on women’s economic empowerment, leadership and violence against women, due to the urgency of addressing these issues and the opportunity to measure the results against these issues, given the targeted funding provided by development partners in these two areas. The Secretariat will prepare a draft report for Forum Economic Minister’s consideration before it is tabled at the Leaders’ Meeting in 2020.


  1. Conclusion


  1. The Secretariat will continue to ensure closer monitoring and reporting on regional and national efforts to FEMM to enable the advancement of the regional commitments on women’s economic empowerment. The Secretariat will work closely with members to advance a regional methodology to track the allocation of resources for women’s economic empowerment.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva
6 April 2018
[1] Six members from the pacific region included Australia, Fiji, NZ, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu
[2] Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration: Trend Assessment Report 2012-2016

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