Gender awareness training in Tuvalu

‘I am worried about this notion of male heirs in Tuvalu. We tend to talk about male heirs because of rights to land in Tuvalu. However, we need to move away from this kind of thinking and talking because by continuing to do so, we are perpetuating gender inequalities,’ said Penehuro Hauma, Principal of the Fetuvalu Secondary School and the Nanumaga Island Community Leader on Funafuti. These were the sentiments expressed on the first day of a three-day gender awareness training workshop for stakeholders in government and civil society organisations.

In her welcome remarks, Puaita Etuati, Senior Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, stressed that this was the first in a series of tailored gender awareness and analysis training sessions to be carried out by the Gender Affairs Department. ‘The Government of Tuvalu is on the verge of launching the national gender policy and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community to implement identified recommendations in the Tuvalu stocktake of gender mainstreaming capacity of the government. This training is just the start of implementing those recommendations – we are committed to implementing this policy but we need all stakeholders and all sectors of government to play their part,’ she said.

Saufatu Sopoanga, former Prime Minister of Tuvalu and retired senior public officer and MP representing the Tuvalu National Private Sector Organisation, said that violence against women and girls is an issue in Tuvalu that needs to be tackled by all sectors of society. ‘Government alone cannot do this. Civil society organisations including the private sector need to stand up to this issue and advocate against violence in any form,’ Mr Sopoanga added.

According to Asita Molotii, the Director for Women in the Gender Affairs Department, the idea behind training this group of individuals was to build their capacity to advocate for gender equality in the strategic roles they play in their families and communities, and in their organisations and their departments at work. ‘As the Senior Secretary stressed this morning, if we are to effectively achieve gender equality and the principles highlighted in our national gender policy, we need the support of a wide range of stakeholders – the implementation of the gender policy cannot only be done by the Gender Affairs Department, we need the partnership of the whole of government and our civil society organisations,’ she highlighted.

Participants at the workshop included government officials from departments of media, agriculture, fisheries, budget and planning, training and personnel, health, education and the police department and civil society organisations such as Tuvalu Family Health Association, the Tuvalu National Private Sector Organisation and Tuvalu Youth Council. Several participants also attended the workshop in their capacity as community representatives. The workshop was convened by the Gender Affairs Department in the Office of the Prime Minister and supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

The training of gender advocates is an activity under the Progressing Gender Equality in Pacific Island Countries (PGEP) initiative. PGEP is funded by the Government of Australia under the programme Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development. SPC and Pacific Island governments are working together to implement the project over a five-year period.

For more information about this activity please contact:

  • Asita Molotii, Director for Women, Gender Affairs Department, Tuvalu on Phone: +688 900114, or
  • Joanne Kunatuba, SPC Gender Equality Officer on email: joannek@spc.int