Pacific Islands Forum Women Leaders Meeting
31 August – 1 September 2023
The 2023 Pacific Islands Forum Women Leaders Meeting (PIFWL) was convened on 31 August and 1 September 2023 at the PIF Secretariat in Suva, Fiji.
2. The meeting was chaired by the Cook Islands, and attended by Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
3. The Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP), the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), and the University of the South Pacific (USP), attended as members of the Council of Regional
Organisations of the Pacific (CROP).
4. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC), and UN Women attended as Development Partners.
5. The Secretary General Henry Puna called the Meeting to order and invited the outgoing PIF Women Leaders Chair, Fiji, the Hon. Lynda Tabuya, to offer a few remarks and hand over
the chairing responsibilities to the incoming Chair, Hon. Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown.
6. In opening the meeting, the Hon. Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown emphasised the significance of collective leadership for gender equality and the shared commitment to accountability in bringing to life the vision espoused under the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent (2050 Strategy).
7. Secretary General encouraged Members to draw on the many years of work and experience in addressing regional challenges and challenged participants to re-commit to prevent and end gender-based violence in our Blue Pacific. He referred to the consultation process to revitalise the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED) and looked forward to its consideration by Members.
8. The Minister for Natural Resources of Niue, and Pacific Political Climate Champion on Gender and Social Inclusion, the Hon. Minister Esa Mona Sharon Ainu’u, encouraged innovation without compromising Pacific beliefs, and finding ways to work together to support those who need it. The opening remarks for all speakers are provided under Annexes B – E.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
9. Forum Women Leaders adopted the Annotated Agenda, attached at Annex F and established a Drafting Committee.
DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY
10. Forum Women Leaders welcomed the views of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on strengthening partnership in implementing the revitalised PLGED and the 2050 Strategy.
11. CSOs presented the Key Outcomes from the Regional CSO Forum. They highlighted the need for resourcing and financing, social issues relating to labour mobility, women, peace, and security, Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), young women’s participation, disability inclusion, faith, women’s contribution to economic prosperity, climate change, and supporting rural and maritime women.
12. Members acknowledged the fundamental role that CSOs play and committed to working together to resolve key issues raised and expressed in the CSO Statement.
13. Members highlighted the concerns on the ongoing nuclear legacy issues, which unduly stress existing health systems, impacting maternal and child health, and causing disabilities, further exacerbated by climate change.
SETTING THE SCENE: STRENGTHENING COMMITMENT TO GENDER EQUALITY, EQUITY, AND SOCIAL INCLUSION OUR PACIFIC WAY
14. Members welcomed the inclusion of young people in the policy dialogue and appreciated their interventions whilst also acknowledging the efforts across the region to progress gender equality and social inclusion. In reaffirming their commitment to achieving equality and equity, Members recognised that much more needs to be done.
15. Members supported the need for Pacific-contextualised approaches that reflect our culture and values, further expressing that culture should not be a barrier to progressing gender equality actions.
16. The intergenerational and frank discussions highlighted the importance of inclusion through the engagement of men and boys to progress gender equality. Members and youth representatives recognised that evidence-based data and engagement with all our stakeholders are necessary to address ongoing challenges of gender-based violence, leadership, and defining gender equality in a Pacific context.
17. Forum Women Leaders commended the dialogue with the youth representatives who shared perspectives on innovative and transformative actions to progress gender equality and social inclusion and agreed to the following recommendations:
(i) considered and discussed the three key issues emerging from the revitalisation of the PLGED consultations, which are defining gender equality in a Pacific context, gender-based violence, and leadership;
(ii) directed the Secretariat to work with relevant partners to further consult with Members and relevant stakeholders on a definition of gender equality that is contextualised to and respectful of Pacific cultures; and
(iii) directed the Secretariat to develop a joint CROP-UN annual work program, in collaboration with SPC and UN Women, on gender equality for better coherence and coordination.
SUPPORTING GENDER AND SOCIAL INCLUSION MAINSTREAMING ACROSS KEY REGIONAL INITIATIVES
18. Systemic barriers continue to hamper the potential of women and girls, manifesting in many forms. The rapidly evolving socio-economic landscape, driven by challenges ranging from climate change and global economic shifts to geo-strategic interests highlights that the need for a GESI approach in policymaking is a pragmatic necessity for all Pacific people to thrive in political, economic, social, and cultural life.
19. The 2050 Strategy and key regional frameworks present opportunities to mainstream gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) across all sectors so that the most vulnerable communities and marginalised groups are not left behind. There must be a concerted effort to break the silos and work collaboratively. This must include regional actions that are Pacific grown and reflect the diverse Pacific contexts and realities.
20. Ensure GESI is embedded into the development of regional policies and initiatives and standardised across regional policy development processes and through all sectoral work. This should include strengthening opportunities for women and women machinery for simplified access to and benefit from funding and resourcing for the advancement of GESI priorities.
21. A shift to long term and sustainable financing is critical for our countries to be better prepared for the effects of climate change.
22. Gender responsive budgeting should be applied to the distribution of resources and access to funding.
23. Forum Women Leaders:
(i) acknowledged the update on regional initiatives and the opportunities to mainstream GESI in current and emerging priorities, and within the context of the 2050 Strategy and the revitalised PLGED;
(ii) endorsed that GESI is articulated and mainstreamed in the 2050 IP across all the seven thematic areas;
(iii) supported the integration of GESI analysis in standardised regional policy development processes across all regional agencies, including all standing Forum Meetings, to ensure visibility of GESI benefits and actions to strengthen outcomes for the most marginalised;
(iv) supported the inclusion of accountability frameworks as part of the GESI analysis across all regional agencies;
(v) supported the mainstreaming of climate financing through the ministries of women; and
(vi) directed the Secretariat to include GESI analysis in regional initiatives and all policy advice provided to Members, including to Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial and Leaders Meetings, articulating the GESI benefits and actions to strengthen outcomes for the most marginalised in Pacific communities and proposed sufficient resourcing is made available to the Secretariat to undertake the work.
REVITALISED PACIFIC LEADERS GENDER EQUALITY DECLARATION
24. At their 51st meeting, Forum Leaders agreed to revitalise the PLGED which they endorsed in 2012. Based on the outcomes of consultations with all 18 member countries, a revitalised Declaration is proposed for Forum Leaders’ consideration.
25. Furthermore, and based on consultations, the next revitalised PLGED focus areas will reflect a contextualised version of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA), as well as an
alignment with the seven thematic areas of the 2050 Strategy.
26. The PIFWLM was recognised as the overarching governance mechanism for the PLGED, with Terms of Reference that would be further developed in line with the Review of Regional Architecture (RRA). Lack of ownership, political will, and visibility limited the progress under the 2012 PLGED Declaration. There is a need for greater accountability from Members to progress gender equality priorities through clearer and stronger monitoring.
27. Collective responsibility is critical to ensure that our countries realise the principles of the revitalised PLGED, recognising the intersectionality of all Pacific peoples. The women and girls of the Pacific are worthy of our best efforts to ensure the future that they deserve.
28. The importance of disability inclusion is recognised and must be actioned through a twin-track approach, notably as a standalone focus area as well as being a cross-cutting issue within the revitalised PLGED. Sexual and reproductive health and rights, comprehensive sexual education, human trafficking, domestic violence, and data collection are also pertinent and should be reflected in the revitalised PLGED.
29. Following feedback from PIF Women Leaders, the draft revitalised PLGED will be revised before it is presented to Forum Officials Committee (FOC). It will then be shared with Directors for Women for final feedback before it is circulated out of session to PIF Women Leaders before it is presented to PIF Leaders for their endorsement in Cook Islands in November.
30. Forum Women Leaders:
(i) commended and acknowledged the significant efforts of the Secretariat in consulting Members in developing the revitalised PLGED; and proposed sufficient resourcing is made available to the Secretariat to coordinate the implementation of the revitalised PLGED;
(ii) considered the draft revitalised PLGED, as presented in Annex 1 and noted the conveyance process to Pacific Islands Forum Leaders for endorsement;
(iii) agreed on the process to review the PIF Women Leaders Meeting (PIFWLM) Terms of Reference within the first quarter of 2024, following Leaders endorsement of the 2050 Strategy IP and the revitalised PLGED;
(iv) supported the approach to the development of the Implementation and Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for the revitalised PLGED and directed the Secretariat to develop the Implementation and Monitoring Plan after the 2050 IP is endorsed by Leaders, and considered the proposal to include a report card with gender data indicators to monitor progress, and include Members with
gender parity and youth representation on a monitoring mechanism;
(v) encouraged CROP to continue their support to the revitalised PLGED and gender equality actions, and recognised the critical role of the Pacific Platform for Action and the Triennial Conference of Pacific Women, and the Pacific Ministers for Women Meeting play in relation to progressing gender equality; and
(vi) urged the Chair of PIFWLM to present the meeting outcomes to the PIF Leaders Meeting in Cook Islands in November.
2050 STRATEGY FOR THE BLUE PACIFIC CONTINENT
31. The 2050 Strategy guides the region’s long-term coordination, cooperation and planning across seven thematic areas, considering the unique challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. The 2050 IP is being developed through four Multi-Sectoral Expert Group (MSEGs) established to develop goals, outcomes, and regional collective actions across the thematic areas.
32. It will be consulted with Members, CROP, development partners, civil society, and private sector representatives before it is presented to Leaders for their endorsement at their
meeting in November.
33. There was recognition of the Review of Regional Architecture (RRA), a three-phase process intended to examine and assure the necessary governance and resourcing arrangements to deliver the 2050 Strategy. The RRA aligns closely with the development of the 2050 IP, with the outcomes of each phase informing the next. The PIFWLM Terms of Reference will
follow the RRA process.
34. A GESI analysis of the draft 2050 IP is underway to ensure that GESI is mainstreamed throughout. This is critical given the important role of Pacific women and girls, in all their diversity, in achieving the objectives of the 2050 IP and mainstreaming the accountability frameworks across the seven thematic areas of the 2050 Strategy.
35. In this context, it is important to note that the revitalised PLGED is reflected as a regional collection action in the 2050 IP and a key driver for mainstreaming gender equality
and social inclusion across the seven thematic areas.
36. Forum Women Leaders:
(i) noted the update on the work to develop the 2050 IP and the RRA;
(ii) discussed and provided feedback on the draft 2050 IP to ensure gender equality and social inclusion is embedded and mainstreamed across the thematic areas of the 2050 Strategy, inclusive of the accountability frameworks and mainstreaming gender in all thematic areas; and
(iii) urged the inclusion of gender in climate change, maritime security, human trafficking and cybercrimes and women as peace builders under the pillar of peace and security of the 2050 Strategy.
POSITIONING GENDER EQUALITY FOR STRATEGIC ADVOCACY AND AWARENESS
37. The inaugural PIFWLM in 2022 supported the development of a gender equality advocacy and messaging strategy, which would be linked to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) International Engagement and Advocacy Strategy and its processes to ensure gender dimensions are included and reflective of the current Pacific context.
38. PIF Women Leaders noted the importance of maintaining a collective voice to advocate issues of common interest including the disproportionate impacts and effects of climate change and disasters on women and girls in all their diversity.
39. The development of the Gender Equality Engagement and Advocacy Strategy and its Messaging Guide has been undertaken as part of the PLGED revitalisation process to ensure it aligns with the next iteration of the Declaration, and that the messaging on common issues is grounded on national positions. Members recognised the need for the Strategy to be adaptable in order to be used at national and local level to account for the diverse context of the region.
40. The PLGED revitalisation process has identified the thematic focus for the revitalised PLGED and its linkage to the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) and other global instruments, therefore providing a good basis for advocacy, engagement, positioning and messaging more broadly.
41. Forum Women Leaders:
(i) supported the formulation of a Gender Equality Advocacy and Engagement Strategy, its Messaging Guide and to be adaptable to account for the diverse context of the region, and ensure it reflects the agreed key priorities as outlined in the revitalised PLGED and the seven thematic areas of the 2050 Strategy; and
(ii) directed the Secretariat to utilise existing mechanisms to consult on and seek endorsement of the Gender Equality Advocacy and Engagement Strategy and its Messaging Guide, including in alignment with the Forum International Engagement Strategy and its Annual Action Plan.
PROGRESSING THE OUTCOMES OF THE PACIFIC WOMEN’S TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE AND PACIFIC MINISTERS FOR WOMEN MEETING
42. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) provided an update on the implementation of the outcomes of the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and the 7th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women (Triennial) under the frame of the Pacific Platform for Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights (PPA).
43. Since the last PIFWLM, key actions have been taken towards implementing the Triennial outcomes under the frame of the PPA. These key actions, include the commencement of the Pacific Women Lead Programme (PWL) in 2022 to support the implementation of the Triennial outcomes, the establishment of a grants initiative for actions to implement one or more of the outcomes of the14th Triennial Conference and the 7th Ministers for Women Meeting, implementation of the Women in Leadership (WIL) programme to enhance the representation of women in leadership roles within SPC, and the design of a Gender Equality Flagship Programme.
44. The SPC, as the custodian of the Pacific Platform for Action and Women’s Human Rights (PPA), worked closely with the Secretariat for the revitalisation of PLGED to ensure closer alignment between the revitalised PLGED and the PPA.
45. Preparatory work has commenced, and updates were provided by the Republic of Marshall Islands and SPC for the 15th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and the 8th Pacific Ministers for Women Meeting, to be hosted by the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands from 22 – 26 July 2024.
46. Members acknowledged the work of SPC on progressing the outcomes of the Triennial. Samoa updated Members on their plans for hosting the 2023 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and requested the support of CROP agencies towards their preparations.
47. Forum Women Leaders:
(i) noted and confirmed continued support for the key actions taken towards implementing the outcomes of the 14th Triennial Conference and the 7th Ministers for Women Meeting;
(ii) supported efforts to finalise the Triennial Implementation Plan and Tracking Tool; and
(iii) noted the dates and preparatory work for the 15th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and the 8th Pacific Ministers for Women Meeting.
(i) COUNTRY PAPER – FIJI: PACIFIC CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) SESSION
48. Women’s equality remains a priority issue across the Pacific, as demonstrated by inclusion in the Leader’s list of ten Commitments in the 2050 Strategy, ongoing implementation of the revitalised PLGED and widespread ratification of CEDAW. The Pacific session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) held in Samoa in 2020, demonstrated the value of regional sessions in creating the necessary conditions for accelerated implementation and realisation of rights.
49. A CEDAW session would create similar momentum around the gender equality agenda, and to take advantage of several other conditions outlined in this paper which make such an initiative timely. This would provide an opportunity for Member States and CSOs to observe the process and enable invaluable learning. The core funding and secretariat support for holding an extraordinary session of the CEDAW Committee in the region is secured, as is support within the CEDAW Committee and its secretariat.
50. Forum Women Leaders:
(i) supported Fiji’s proposal to hold an extraordinary session of the CEDAW Committee in the region in Fiji in 2025, funded by SPC;
(ii) supported the nomination of Pacific Islands women candidates through an agreed process to the upcoming CEDAW, CRC and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Committee elections;
(iii) requested the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to approve the CEDAW Committee to convene an extraordinary session in Fiji in the first half of 2025; and
(iv) tasked SPC and the Secretariat to progress these initiatives, including, if the regional CEDAW Committee proceeds, through a Steering Committee comprising Fiji, the Forum Troika, SPC, PIFS, OHCHR and relevant Suva based UN agencies.
(ii) PALAU: TALANOA FOR WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS: SHARING JOURNEYS TO POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
51. Forum Women Leaders shared experiences of their political journey highlighting the challenges and the need for support and capacity building. There is a need for inclusive spaces for women, current and newly elected politicians, to share their stories and provide support to each other.
52. Recognising the low rates of women in political office across the region and the lack of support for women to navigate their political spaces, Women Leaders called for platforms to support women parliamentarians and those who wish to enter the political space.
(iii)ANY OTHER BUSINESS
53. The Republic of Marshall Islands raised its concerns regarding the release of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water into the Pacific Ocean from 24 August 2023, in the context of women and girls as the most vulnerable group in society.
54. Forum Women Leaders noted that the Secretariat will advise on the arrangements for the next PIFWLM to be held prior to the 2024 PIF Leaders Meeting.
2023 PIF WOMEN LEADERS MEETING OUTCOMES
55. Forum Women Leaders noted and endorsed the Outcomes and recommendations of the PIFWLM which will be conveyed to the Forum Leaders’ Meeting by the Secretary General consistent with the 2005 PIF Establishment Agreement, as outlined in the PIFWLM Terms of Reference.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva
1 September 202