Women civil society leaders discuss ways to fast track progress on gender equality in Pacific

Women leaders of civil society organisations and representatives of government and academia met with the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Dame Meg Taylor, in a closed dialogue on Friday 4 August at PIFS Headquarters in Suva, Fiji. The leaders discussed how women’s civil society and coalitions for change can work with different levels of leadership to progress gender equality and women’s human rights in the region.

The dialogue sought to strengthen relationships between the PIFS Secretary General and women’s civil society representatives and other women leaders in the region. It aimed to develop mutual understanding on key issues and challenges in efforts to achieve gender equality and advance the rights of women and girls in the Pacific. It also aimed to identify strategic and practical actions to assist these efforts, including through regional mechanisms and organisations. Participants acknowledged the increased momentum and activity of women’s civil society organisations and their contributions at the international, regional and national level.

Dialogue participants included the Hon Niki Rattle, Speaker of Parliament, Government of the Cook Islands and women’s civil society leaders from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga. Other women leaders present were from the Government of Vanuatu, the University of the South Pacific and representatives from the Pacific Community (SPC), PIFS and the Government of Australia.

This is the third event in the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Leadership Dialogue Series, supported by the Government of Australia, which began in 2014 to bring together women leaders from across the region to identify strategies to improve women’s leadership and decision-making opportunities. Previous events have focused on strengthening partnerships between women parliamentarians and women leaders in the public sector and on promoting women entrepreneurs and economic opportunities for women.

Following the closed session, participants met with civil society representatives from the PIFS Non-State Actors (NSA) Programme, which is supported by the European Union, in an open question and answer session to share the key outcomes of their discussions.