Forum takes major step for empowering women in Pacific


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Forum takes major step for empowering women in Pacific

Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jokes with Richard Benyon, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, at the Post-Forum Dialogue partners meeting on Rarotonga today. Image: Harvie Allison/Forum photographer

Pacific Scoop:
Commentary – By Barry Coates on Rarotonga

The 43rd Pacific Islands Forum will be remembered for a major step forward in enabling women in the Pacific to live free from violence, discrimination and exclusion.

Long-term funding by the Australian government has been underpinned by a clear commitment from the heads of Pacific states to exercise their leadership in supporting gender equality.

This has the potential to be a huge step forward.2012 PIF logo

Hopefully this Forum meeting will be a defining moment when real progress can be initiated.

Oxfam works in the Pacific to support the elimination of violence against women, women’s economic empowerment and women’s leadership in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The leaders have also agreed good initiatives in other areas, including fisheries and renewable energy, and there is now a greater recognition that the Pacific Forum’s work must reach out to involve communities and people across Pacific societies.

But a more inclusive approach is needed. If communities are to benefit, they and the civil society organisations that are crucial in the lives of most Pacific people, must be included in reviews, plans and follow up actions.

Wider society
In particular, the issues of climate change will affect all Pacific people over forthcoming years. The work to protect communities and help people to adapt must involve the wider society.

There are good examples of this starting to happen, but more needs to be done, with far greater urgency. The threats from climate change are potentially devastating. The responses must be far reaching and effective.

Barry Coates is executive director of Oxfam New Zealand, who has been attending the Forum meetings in Rarotonga.

Oxfam released a major new report yesterday on climate change strategic and community funding, Owning Adaptation in the Pacific, at the Forum meeting.

Australia gives $320m for women ‘shaping Pacific development’ plan

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Unless expressly stated otherwise, the findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this media release item do not necessarily represent the views of 36th Parallel Assessments.