Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66, 2022) Pacific Side Event
Thursday 17 March 2022 5pm – 6:30pm NYC/Friday 18 March 2022, 9am – 10.30am Fiji Time
CSW65 2022 Review theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
Remarks by HE Dr Satyendra Prasad,
Fiji’s Permanent Representative to United Nations (PRUN)
Ni sa bula vinaka. Warm greetings from the Pacific this morning. It is my pleasure to be part of the opening formalities supporting this Pacific side event.
- The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Henry Puna.
- The panellists for the side event today – thank you for being here; and
- Dear listeners tuning in via zoom.
- I am especially pleased to see that this side event is one that is focusing on the review theme on the changing world of work.
- Discussing the review theme in this panel today is a perfect time to reflect on not only what has happened and what have been challenges. More importantly it is a great opportunity to see how the CSW66 theme should be captured and included.
- We are well aware that there needs to be greater acknowledgement, recognition and support to women – as business owners, as employees, as executives – in the private sector as both leaders and contributors to a suite of work and business activities in climate change, environment, and disaster risk.
- Further, that greater emphasis be placed on education and girls, particularly where technical areas of climate change, environment and ‘green jobs’ are founded on STEM subjects.
- Additionally, there are some issues that are confronting women and girls today – COVID-19 and the pathway to recovery, and climate change, for a more equitable and equal Blue Pacific continent.
- Climate change and other crises, like the COVID-19, exposed and exacerbated inequalities globally, with a devastating effect on vulnerable groups and societies. For us in the Pacific this was glaringly evident as borders closed and tourism dependent economies suffered in the aftermath.
- Fiji saw this firsthand, and borders closed and many in the tourism sector were women in the industry. But we also know that in the Pacific, many are employed in the sectors at greatest risk of climate impacts: agriculture, fisheries, and tourism; and that technology-led change and jobs founded in STEM (science technology engineering maths) and ICTs are putting further pressure on women’s labour force participation.
- Last year, the Asia Foundation highlighted in their “The Future of Work” report that the COVID-19 exposed the vulnerability of workers in the “old normal” to unexpected shocks like the pandemic.
- It is no surprise that such research and studies show the rationale for gender equality and greater workforce participation. It is clear that it helps reduce income inequality, increases economic diversification, and boosts economic growth.
- The World Economic Forum (2017) predicts that closing the global gender gap in labour market participation by 25% by 2025 (in 3 years’ time) would add $5.3 trillion to GDP globally. Much research tracks the correlation between greater gender diversity in leadership and company performance.
- 12. The Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, Leadership Matters Report for the Pacific findings suggest that the business community in the Pacific offers greater opportunities for women to take on leadership roles than the political sphere. The latter showing a 7% participation rate and is among the lowest in the world.
- The private sector in the region is making progress on gender equity and representation with an increasing proportion of women on boards now at an average of 22%. This exceeds the global average of 17%. This strengthening trend is also reflected through representation of women in the South Pacific Stock Exchange (SPX)-listed boards, which rose from 12% in 2017 to 24% in 2020.
- That also women’s representation in business leadership in the Pacific also compares favourably with global averages. In the Pacific, on average, women hold 21% of board seats, 11% of board chair positions, and 19% of deputy board chair roles.
- I recognise and commend the efforts of our Pacific Governments to put in place measures to reduce gender gaps. However, we must also emphasise that this be done in tandem with the private sector to proactively engage women more fully in formal positions in the workforce.
- This is where policy and regulatory frameworks and working on conducive policies is essential. Pacific businesses are developing gender and diversity policies including focusing on capacity building through training and mentoring. These efforts have resulted in a greater retention of women and a higher proportion of women taking on management roles. This is a lesson also for those in the public sector.
- This may include a suite of training initiatives, and policy development work and mentoring to ensure more women enter leadership roles. A focus on STEM education, girls in science and develop the qualifications for skilled employment in the green economy and other emerging STEM fields given the climate change threat before us.
- Before I conclude, allow me to acknowledge our collaborating agencies – the ADB Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, PIFS and the Centre for International Private Enterprise.
- I wish you all well for the panel today and I am looking forward to today’s outcomes.
- Vinaka vakalevu and thank you.