A one-day National Women’s Forum to discuss the work done on a National Policy on Gender and Development 2014-18, while mapping out a way forward to achieve its aims was held on Thursday, 16 June at Tungi Colonnade.
Key stakeholders from the Women’s Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Tonga Police, Ministry of Finance and other government departments with representatives from the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children, Women and Children Crisis Center, Girl Guides, Civil Society and NGOs attended, with the Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. Fe’ao Vakata opening the forum.
Hon. Vakata said the idea of development is for equal opportunities for men and women.
However, he said statistics showed gaps between men and women in regards to both genders in various aspects.
In the 2011 census, there were 51,979 men and 51,273 women recorded in Tonga. Paid workers were 13,977 men and 9,721 women, while the unemployment rate was at 33% for men and 33.3% for women. In addition, a report from Tonga Police showed from 2000-09, 2,753 women had been physically abused, he said.
The National Gender and Development Policy aims to close these gaps with six priority outcomes that need to be achieved, including enabling familial and social environment for gender equality, equitable access to economic assets and employment and increase women’s leadership and equitable political representation, among others.
He said Government is committed to these outcomes so they came to share, discuss and understand the work that has been done and identify the gaps in all levels and map a way forward on how to balance it out to achieve equal opportunities for men and women.
The sessions hosted by the Women’s Affairs and Australia DFAT included looking at the national progress of gender equality with sessions linking gender to the National Outcomes set in the Tonga Strategic Framework II, current progress from the Women Division and discussion from Civil societies on a way forward for all to be involved.