Forum enables Tuvaluan youth and women to take a lead role in national issues

Tuvalu National Women and Youth Forum group photo. Photo credit: Tuvalu Government Media.

Monday 9 December 2019 (Funafuti, Tuvalu): Tuvaluan youth and women are taking a lead role this week to guide the development of national policies and programs.

This week’s Tuvalu National Women and Youth Forum focuses on many issues, including ending violence against women and girls, advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, and increasing women’s participation in leadership and ‘Falekaupule’ decision making roles.

This national forum brings together women, youth and others to share views and recommendations to guide the 2020 revision of three national approaches – the Tuvalu Gender Equality Policy, National Youth Policy and the Te Kakeega III, or TK III (Tuvalu’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016–2020) – as well as to inform the provision of sexual and reproductive health services and education in Tuvalu.

The National Forum is led by the Gender Affairs Department of the Ministry of Health, Social Affairs and Gender, in partnership with the Tuvalu Family Health Association (TuFHA) with support from the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Social Development (SDP) program, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Australian Government’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program.

Gender Affairs Department Director Mrs. Asita Molotii, explained, ‘This event provides a National Forum for people from across Tuvalu to come together and discuss concerns, experiences and ideas to guide future plans for national gender and social inclusion priorities, policies and programs.’

‘The people of Tuvalu understand the challenges and the opportunities in our country, so it’s critical the government hosts National Forums like this to give a platform to Tuvaluans to be central in developing approaches best suited to our national context, to ensure women and girls are treated the same as men and boys,’ said Mrs. Molotii.

‘Only by improving gender equality can we reduce violence against women and girls, increase women’s critical role in leadership and decision making and ensure sustainable development for Tuvalu,’ she said.

This week’s Tuvalu National Women and Youth Forum brings together women and young people from both Funafuti and the outer islands to share experiences and identify priorities to work together to improve equality between women and men, girls and boys and to strengthen reproductive rights for all, including access to health services. Civil society organisations, government agencies and representatives from development partner organisations will also participate in the forum.

Tuvalu Family Health Association’s (TuFHA) Lono Leneuoti, Executive Director, said ‘the forum is crucial to provide a better understanding of the needs of young people in Tuvalu in terms of their sexual and reproductive health.’

‘Young people in Tuvalu need sexual and reproductive health services and education which is accessible to them and responsive to their needs, which is non-discriminatory and which empowers them to make informed decisions about their bodies and their lives. This forum will enable the voices of young people across Tuvalu, from the outer islands as well as Funafuti, to be heard by the government, civil society organisations and development partners, to ensure that their priorities are put into practice.’

Mr Leneuoti added, ‘If we are to make meaningful progress on achieving the priorities of Tuvalu’s Te Kakeega III (TK III), or National Strategy for Sustainable Development, which has a strong focus on human rights and advancing gender equality, reflecting the Tuvalu National Gender Policy, we must engage young people as decision-makers.’

Importantly, the National Forum will also inform Tuvalu reporting to regional and international gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) mechanisms including the Beijing Platform, Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2020, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

‘Stronger Together: Women and Youth Unite for Change’ is the theme of the National Women and Youth Forum, being held at the National Convention Centre in Funafuti from 9–13 December 2019.

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The outcome statement of the Tuvalu National Women and Youth Forum is available here.