To mark International Women’s Day this year the United Nations has chosen the theme “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work”. It is a theme that resonates for me.
I believe the key to sustainable and resilient development for our communities is the economic empowerment of our women.
When young women are empowered they are free to make their own decisions. Free to live a healthy and productive life. Able to pursue ongoing education opportunities. They become leaders among their people.
The flow on effects are enormous. Increased female labour force participation leads to faster economic growth. Evidence shows that when greater shares of household income are controlled by women, then beneficial spending on children in those households improves.
As a Pacific woman, mother, and Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, I am driven to advancing gender equality across the region. This is also something that Forum Leaders are deeply committed to.
We have a long way to go. Across our region social and cultural norms, standards and expectations lead to differential treatment, violence, job segregation, limited employment opportunities, workplace harassment and overall lower economic, social and political status for women.
Today, I challenge you push for change in our communities that will lead to greater economic empowerment for our women.
Give equal pay for equal work. End the gender wage gap.
Influence attitudes and break down behavioural barriers that suppress women’s participation in the workplace.
Ensure schools and workplaces are safe and productive environments for women and girls.
And finally, encourage the mothers, sisters and daughters around you to always think big and then get behind them and support the pursuit of their dreams.
Take up the challenge and Be Bold For Change. The Pacific region will stronger for your efforts.
I encourage you to read the powerful remarks given by one of the men of the Forum Secretariat Mr Sakiasi Ditoka at our International Women’s Day event.