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Letters

Forum ignores Pacific women

Atlanta, Georgia,USA

Editor,

As a practitioner and activist for women’’s rights and gender equality, it is depressing to see the absence of any statement on the Forum Communique agreed upon by Forum Leaders as was recently released by the Forum Secretariat.  Given the low level of representation and influence of women in politics and decision making throughout the Pacific and the continued violence against women, it is very hard to understand.

It is also not shocking at all to find that our local newsmakers and their websites lack any updated news or developments under the section for …“Women…”….  One finds under …“Women…” Section of the Matangi Tonga, saying …“that Tongan women may get right to register husband…’s land…” in September, 2006 and an older piece on what may have been the last speech to the public by the Hon. Cecil Cocker in his capacity as Minister responsible for Women’s Affairs, Hon. Cecil Cocker…  where I quote “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you,” the Tonga Minister responsible for Women’s Affairs, Hon. Cecil Cocker, told a Prayer Breakfast that was held on March 8 to mark International Women…’s Day in Tonga.

As you surf onto the Tonga Broadcasting Commission…’s site, you find under the section …“Women…” something like …“Sorry, no articles were found….”

Could this be a lack on the newsmakers or a reflection of the continuous low prioritization accorded by decision makers to gender equality and women’s empowerment?…  Is it just one of those many missing links that policy makers and politicians continuously fail or refuse to connect?…  Is it a true reflection of a growing gap between rhetoric and reality?

Tonga will host the Pacific Forum in 2007 and another Forum Communiqué will be agreed upon by Leaders and issued as the way forward for 2008….  Tonga will join others in New York in Feb-March 2007 at the United Nations Commission on Status of Women and report to the UN on how Tonga fair out in terms of commitment to women…’s empowerment and gender equality, and why it has not ratified CEDAW.

As Government knits out the various options for political reforms, where does one place gender equality?…  In the centre?…  Outside the box?…  At the margins? Or is it in the shadows that one cannot see it?… 

Can the knitting process of political reforms capture the seedlings of gender equality and use them as entry points or pathways to nurture development and reforms?…  Could old wine be put in new bottles someone remarked?…  … 

Is this the right moment for decision makers to seize and shape what is …“thinkable…” …“discussable…” or …“worth saying…” and make rhetoric a reality for the people?…  As coined by Foucault …“Power is productive and not bad, or good, or neutral….  Power is essential to human society as air…”, Foucault believes.

Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua

Senior Program Advisor (Women…’s Empowerment and…  Gender Equity)
Integrated Program Framework Team
CARE USA

asiamomua [at] care [dot] org