Tuvalu National Council of Women International Women’s Day release

International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated on the 8th March 2020 in Tuvalu which began with a World Day of Prayer service on Friday organised by the Vaiaku Women church Community at the Vaialofa Chapel. The service was attended by various religious institutions on Funafuti representing the host country for IWD, Zimbwabwe.

Tuvalu National Council of Women (TNCW) who coordinated the day, will continue on Sunday afternoon at 6 o’clock at the Tulakiga Ahiga. TNCW Coordinator, Ms Pulafagu Toafa said, women from the 8 island communities will gather at the Ahiga for hymn competition and an action song.  Each will bring a bottle of water and fruits to reflect the affected women of the world whom they are currently suffering from the lack of food and drinks.

IWD is an annual event that reminds us how women of the world were ill treated from their work places because they are women.  In Tuvalu this is the time to celebrate the women and girls contribution and participation into island communities and government and how they make a change until today.

This is also an important opportunity to remind the leaders that we have to work together to make sure women and girls in all their diversity benefit from development and climate resilient initiatives. 25 years ago, at the 4th World Women Conference, the world adopted the Beijing Platform for action, which was a kind of blue print for advancing gender equality and women’s human rights.

This year has been earmarked, to celebrate the achievements made by women from the many milestone they had gone through in order to become as they are now.  In Tuvalu, we have made important progress: our girls are achieving good education outcomes, women access better healthcare services, many women now earn incomes, and we have laws against domestic violence.  However, there are still some areas where women lag behind and we want to see, in our lifetime, women and girls having equal opportunities and benefiting equally from development outcomes.  For that, more opportunities need to be developed for women to earn income.  We also must end all forms of violence against women and girls – this is our collective responsibility.  And we need to take measures for the full and equal participation of women in decision making at all levels and in all areas of life.  These priorities were expressed once again by women leaders who took part in the National Women and Youth Forum held in Funafuti in December 2019.

This year’s theme for IWD “I am Generation Gender Equality: Realizing the Rights of Women”.

Working towards the achievement of an equal world and gender equality is a key priority for Tuvalu National Council for Women, which is a non-government organisation that has operated as an umbrella body for women organisation on Funafuti connecting women across Tuvalu since 1977. A lot of changes had occurred and are being witnessed by many women.

In addition to its church service the Tuvalu National Council for Women is also planning a radio program plus conducting a small poll survey to ask women what they think has progressed in Tuvalu in recent years such as good practices in their communities, practices they think need to change, and actions from government they would like to implement.

International Women’s Day will also be used to highlight the country’s agreed Outcome Statement from the Tuvalu 2019 National Women and Youth Forum covering 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.

The Outcome Statement is also helping 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 and its Outcome Statement are also informing Tuvalu’s 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).

The Tuvalu National Council of Women (TNCW) has operated as an umbrella NGO for women in Tuvalu since 1977. In 1999, it began a Legal Literacy Project (LLP) in partnership with the Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and its partners but has grown into a more broad-based human rights project.

The first Tuvalu National Women and Youth Forum was held from 9 to 13 of December 2019 in Funafuti under the theme of ‘Stronger Together: Women and Youth Unite for Change’. Seventy-one people – including 30 women and 41 youth in all their diversity – from all eight islands of Tuvalu took part to the Forum representing civil society, governmental, development and other partners. The Forum was 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.