Forum SG Henry Puna
Remarks to the CROP Women of the Wave Talanoa
Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders 2022, Imin International Conference Centre, Wailana room.
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies, gentlemen.
• Kia Orana, and warm greetings.
• Before I commence, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II only a few days ago. As we gather here this afternoon, let us take something from her life, her leadership, and her example, into our conversation this afternoon.
• Indeed, it is my great pleasure to be here today, to offer some reflections at this very important Talanoa – to hear different views from our esteemed Panelists, on amplifying Pacific women’s voice and agency, particularly in implementing the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
• The 2050 Strategy is our long-term plan for regional cooperation. It sets an integral opportunity for the region, to shape the future that we want for our children, steering our vaka towards long-term wellbeing and prosperity, based on our terms.
* The Strategy is our opportunity to ensure that we strengthen our unity, and resilience to anticipate, prepare for and respond to climate events, geopolitical and security trends, and unanticipated shocks.
• Importantly, it is an opportunity for the Pacific to address issues of exclusion and inequality – strengthening the voices and engagement of women, children, persons with disabilities and other marginalized communities for a resilient, peaceful, harmonious, safe, secure, inclusive, and prosperous Pacific so all Pacific peoples can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.
• Grounded in the values and ambitions of the 2050 Strategy, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have endorsed the revitalization of the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, recognizing the need for a commitment that is responsive, relevant, and strengthens the pursuit for a gender-equal and socially inclusive Pacific.
• We also recognize that women’s equal and ongoing participation, in both the public and private sector, is vital to stability, to building resilience, to preventing conflict and violence; and promotes sustainable and inclusive development, which leaves no one behind. Gender equality and inclusion are a pre-requisite, for a better Pacific by 2050.
• While the region has made significant progress on gender equality, much more needs to be done. The Pacific still has the lowest percentage of women’s political participation globally, we still need more women leaders across the leadership spectrum, and gender-based violence rates in our region, are among the highest in the world. These challenges are further exacerbated by the climate change crisis.
• Pacific women continue to call for greater recognition of their diverse views and voice, meaningful participation, ending gender-based violence, and freedom to make their own decisions. There is no better time than now to actively pursue these – moving from words to actions.
• We, men, must also recognize our role in advancing gender equality as decision-makers, fathers in families, and influencers in communities. We must use these positions, and share the spaces that patriarchy has granted us, to empower Pacific women and girls, and ensure they are provided with the right environment to pursue their dreams and be active decision-makers on actions that impact on their lives, and livelihoods.
• I urge all of us, to continue to provide spaces and platforms, such as this, for our Pacific women in all their diversity and abilities, to amplify their voice on being equal partners in nation building, decision-making and collective action.
• I would like to thank my fellow CROP Heads, Dr. Mary Hattori of PIDP and Dr. Manu Tupou of FFA for their continued leadership, in encouraging women within our CROP agencies, to strengthen and amplify their voice and agency, and to pursue leadership roles within CROP and beyond.
• In closing, I look forward to hearing the Panelists share their views and look forward to all of us working together for an inclusive, equal, and just Blue Pacific Continent, by 2050.
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