Pacific Women Regional Learning Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment

Recognising and achieving women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific Island region: what needs to change?

Date: 27–30 May 2019 
Location: University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) is in its seventh year of implementation. The Three-Year Evaluation of the program recognised that while progress had been made in generating knowledge and understanding, gaps remain, especially in the areas of women’s economic empowerment and women in leadership and decision making. The evaluation recommended maximising opportunities for knowledge building and sharing at learning events in these areas.

Overview

The Pacific Women Regional Learning Forum on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) aimed to:

  • contribute to and build Pacific understanding and knowledge of women’s economic empowerment and approaches;
  • build on regional research, practitioner expertise and the experiences of women in the region to adapt and improve the Pacific Women approach to WEE;
  • strengthen relationships between development partners working on WEE and catalyse increased communication and more coordinated action.

Pacific Women recognises that the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women held in 2017 identified key issues and broad areas where action is needed to economically empower women. Pacific Women is also aware that regional agencies, governments, civil society and other regional partners are the key groups that can ensure sustainable action on WEE.

Building on that awareness and knowledge, as well as global research on good practice in WEE, the forum sought to identify strategic and practical ways that Pacific Women could: learn with its partners; and adapt and adjust its programming to better support social norms change, generational change and enhanced enabling environments.

The forum brought together a diverse group of: women working in the informal economy, including market vendors, women working in fisheries, agriculture, crafts and dairy; policy, planning and finance decision makers (government, development partners, regional organisations); program practitioners; regional and international organisations; research institutions; civil society and community organisations; and representatives from the private sector.

Read the pre-event update here:
https://pacificwomen.org/news/achieving-womens-economic-empowerment-in-the-pacific-what-needs-to-change/

Agenda and Format

The forum was based on the theme: Recognising and achieving women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific Island region: what needs to change.

Download the event program

Over a three-day period, speakers and participants considered the theme from the following perspectives:

  • Day One: Social norms and women’s economic empowerment;
Keynote by Dr Vijaya Nagarajan on social norms and women’s economic empowerment
  • Day Two: Ensuring WEE interventions and research are inclusive of all women;
Keynote by Dr Yvonne Underhill-Sem on ensuring women’s economic empowerment interventions and research are inclusive
  • Day Three: Changes in enabling environments and institutions to support genuine WEE.
Keynote by Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i on enabling environments and institutions to support genuine women’s economic empowerment

Speakers, panellists and participants:

  • considered the evidence and context in the Pacific Islands region, including research, statistics and other evidence about social norms and women’s economic empowerment;
  • shared approaches, programs, activities, experiences, practices, lessons learned from different parts of the Pacific Islands region;
  • discussed ways to build on and improve recognition of and approaches to WEE in the Pacific Islands region.

The learning forum focused on women from both urban and rural settings, operating in both the formal and informal economies. Sessions included daily keynote addresses focused on a specific aspect of women’s economic empowerment on each of the three days followed by panel discussions, working/interactive sessions/workshops and daily analysis and summary discussions on the theme for the day.