REMARKS: SG Puna at Women and changing world of work, CSW66 Pacific side event

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66, 2022) Pacific Side Event

Friday 18 March 2022, 9am – 10.30am Fiji Time

 CSW65 2021 Review theme: Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.*

  Remarks by Henry Puna, Secretary General



  • The Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations, His Excellency Dr. Satyendra Prasad.
  • to the remarkable women panellists; and
  • all of you listening in to this side event.

Kia orana and ni sa bula vinaka. Warm greetings from the Blue Pacific this morning. It is indeed my pleasure to be part of the opening formalities supporting this Pacific side event at this 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (the CSW).

  1. This event is indeed timely – given the topic for discussion – “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. I recall that this was also one of the key issues deliberated on during CSW65 and given our current context as we seek to recover from Covid-19 and return to some semblance of normalcy, it is an important theme to reflect upon, as women have been impacted similarly in many ways to men, yet differently as well, and this needs to be taken into account.
  2. As we enter CSW66, I noted the theme is focused on gender equality and empowerment in climate change – it is therefore important to identify pathways and opportunities for women in the workforce, in business and in leadership within this frame.
  3. The COVID19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. In doing so, it forced us all to relook at work and employment in a completely new light. Whether in the private sector or the public sector, the interface of work has changed, and employees were confronted with the changing modalities, pace and place of work. Women, in particular have been disproportionally affected, especially for those that have had to work from home and had to manage their households at the same time.
  4. For us in the Pacific this was glaringly evident as borders closed and tourism dependent economies suffered in the aftermath.
  5. Tourism-dependent economies like Fiji, Palau, and the Cook Islands for example, the shutdown of international travel vastly affected GDP. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), for the Cook Islands, the decline was recorded at approximately 15.4% for year-end 2021.
  6. This decline in economic growth impacted employment and household incomes, and particularly for women who hold 60.5% of tourism-related jobs. In other economies this included handicraft vendors, cleaners, fishers, farmers, and restaurant workers. I am especially happy to see Fiji’s Hotel and Tourism Executive here today and to share the experiences of her industry.
  7. The CSW agreed conclusions complements our very own efforts here in the region through the 2050 Pacific Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. This strategy represents the region’s ongoing commitment to work together to develop long-term and regional approaches to critical challenges including addressing gender issues and our women and girls have an important role to play in the effective deliver and implementation of the strategy!
  8. To realise this, there needs to be a commitment at national and regional levels on meeting global human rights and other international legal obligations that recognise the rights of all people, protects our natural environment, and ensures no one is left behind.
  9. I am pleased to report that in this regard, we have recently completed the review of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED) and aligned to these were the outcomes of the Women’s Triennial Meeting for the region that was held last year.
  10. The discussions and recommendations formulated here today will be key in progressing efforts to address gender-based issues across the Blue Pacific. This will also feed into the CSW process and implementing the 2050 Strategy.
  11. At this juncture I would like to take the opportunity to thank the ADB Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, and the Centre for International Private Enterprise for partnering with us at this important event today. I look forward to future collaboration with all of you and other partners on these important initiatives.
  12. I wish you all the best in your discussions, and I for one am looking forward to the outcomes.

Vinaka vakalevu and meitaki ma’ata.


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