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Ministerial meeting promises action to improve status of women

Noumea, New Caledonia


Improving the status of women requires the partnership of men and boys, a commitment by governments to allocate money and staff to national gender equality programmes, and better links between the Pacific and bodies such as the United Nations.

These were some of the resolutions and recommendations made by 21 Pacific ministers or their representatives at the Third Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Women, which took place at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's headquarters in Noumea today.

The meeting was generally agreed to have been practical and fruitful, with an action-oriented agenda. Among the ministers other resolutions was ensuring the participation of marginalised groups of women, such as young women and those with disability, in national programmes for women; the need to boost national statistics offices so they could collect better statistics on the status of women; and acknowledgement of the contributions of the women's movement and non-government organisations in building the social fabric of Pacific societies.

Solomon Island representative Augustine Taneko, who just recently took up his country's women'’s affairs portfolio, said that the meeting has taught him a great deal ...– including the need to take concrete action to improve the status of women in his country. "We can say much, but the implementation is very, very important."

The need to translate words into action was also emphasised by Jimmie Rodgers, SPC's Director-General, who said that the ministers resolutions "emphasised a lot more accountability" for advancing gender equality. "The proof of the pudding,...” he added, "“is in the implementation."

Telo Taitague, Guam's Minister of Women's Affairs, said that the meeting had strengthened her belief that "women must channel their energies and abilities into empowering others. We must teach that empowerment is a two-step process: as we climb, we must also lift [others]."

The meeting also agreed on a process to try and get a Pacific expert onto the high-powered United Nations committee that oversees the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

There is no Pacific representation on the 23-member committee of "“independent experts" that monitors countries compliance with CEDAW; individual Pacific nations have tried and failed.

Ministers decided that all SPC member countries would back one quality candidate for CEDAW elections in either 2008 or 2010.

Participants at the Third Pacific Ministers Meeting on Women were:

American Samoa: Hon. Fiasili Haleck, Minister. Australia: Judith Robinson, Assistant Director-General, Pacific Group, AUSAid. Cook Islands: Tamati'i Tutangata, Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Social Development. Federated States of Micronesia: Jane Elymore, National Gender Development Officer. Fiji Islands: Adi Laufitu Malani, Interim Minister for Women. France: Jacques Buguet, Permanent Representative of France at SPC. French Polynesia: Madeleine Bremond, Minister for Community Affairs, Housing and the Family. Guam: Hon. Telo Taitague, Minister of Women'’s Affairs. Kiribati: Aren Teannaki, Senior Women'’s Development Officer. Marshall Islands: Hon. Rien Morris, Minister of Internal Affairs. Nauru: His Excellency Ludwig Scotty, President. New Caledonia: Dewe Gorodey, Vice-President of the Government of New Caledonia. New Zealand: Cherie Engelbrecht, Senior Policy Analyst, Ministry of Women...’s Affairs. Niue: Hon. Va...’aiga Paotama Tukuitoga, Minister of Education and Women's Affairs. Papua New Guinea: Joseph Klapat, Secretary, Department for Community Development. Samoa: Luagalau Foisaaga Eteuati-Shon, Chief Exeutive Officer, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development. Solomon Islands: Hon. Augustine Taneko, Minister of Women, Youth and Children Affairs. Tokelau: Hon. Kuresa Nasau, Titular Head of Tokelau and Minister responsible for women. Tonga: Polotu Fakafanua-Paunga, Deputy Director, Ministry of Education, Women'’s Affairs and Culture. Tuvalu: Hon. Willie Telavi, Minister of Home Affairs. Vanuatu: Hon. Isabelle Donald Sikawonuta, Minister of Justice and Social Welfare. Wallis and Futuna: Malia Seleone, Councillor, Territorial Assembly. - Press Release, SPC, 01/06/07.