Secretary General’s Statement on IWD 2021 ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General,  Dame Meg Taylor
Statement for International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021.

On my sixth and final International Women’s Day commemoration as a regional public servant, I stand with our Pacific nations and communities, our women and girls, and their families marking this year’s March 8th Women in Leadership theme.

Ensuring women and girls are part of decision-making and leadership towards an equal, inclusive and just future is critical to our Blue Pacific, where women’s participation and decision making in public life remain extremely low.

Across the globe and here in our own region, many women and girls still face discrimination based on gender and sex. This discrimination affects their ability to enjoy their human rights, their leadership and economic potential, and the decisions they make in their communities and families.

In the Pacific, advancing women in leadership and decision-making extends beyond attempts to elect women to local and national governments. Promoting shared decision-making at the household level, in communities and in the management of natural resources is a key step to changing social norms on women’s right to participate meaningfully across all levels of society.

I remind us that the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration of 2012 is the demonstration of our Leaders’ continued collective commitment to gender equality. Today I want to acknowledge those early Pacific pioneers of the women’s movement who have done so much to ensure our national and regional commitments to global declarations, truly reflected our Pacific voice. To you all, I thank you. We are here today because of your sheer determination, sacrifice and belief that women’s rights are human rights, and that an equal, inclusive world free of violence and injustice, including in our homes, is not just possible, but necessary.

For the sisterhood of Pacific women and girls for whom this day marks not just celebration, but recognition of our abilities, resilience and solidarity – know that you are not alone. You are valued, respected, and supported.

Beyond the disruption and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Pacific livelihoods, I implore each of us to work with reinvigorated strength and determination to achieve gender equality, equity and empowerment. We Pacific women need to shape our own destiny and strive for the enabling environment to do so. We must continue to rise and challenge the status quo. Much more can be achieved when women are supported with minds, hearts and actions, not just words. We need political will, action, engagement, diversity, justice and social support.

This International Women’s Day, as we remember the past and look towards strengthening our collective commitment towards an inclusive , empowered Blue Pacific, I join you all in a celebration for all those from across our communities, who have led the way. You have set the direction and paved the way for us and those who come after us.–ENDS

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