The first of its kind three day Micronesian Women’s Conference was held at the University of the South Pacific’s Long Island Campus in Majuro, this week.
The Conference was an initiative of the President of Marshall Islands, Honourable Dr Hilda Heine, and was organised by the Government of the Marshall Islands in partnership with Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI), a local non-government organisation, with technical assistance from the Pacific Community (SPC) and financial assistance from Australia, EU and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Women leaders and representatives from across the region were present at the conference including delegates from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Republic of Palau, and the U.S. Territory of Guam.
The Conference invigorated alliances amongst the Micronesian countries and delivered an outcome statement that reflected on Micronesian women’s priorities for progressing gender equality in the region. Over the three days, delegates discussed what would work best to lift the status of women in five areas: Ending Violence against Women and Girls; Realising Women’s Economic Empowerment; Empowerment of Women in Politics and Decision-making; Addressing the Effects of Climate Change on Women, and Improving Women’s access to Health Services.
In her opening address, Her Excellency, Dr Hilda C. Heine, called for the conference to build coalitions and use the regional and international frameworks to accelerate progress towards gender equality. “There has been a lot of talk, but now is the time for substantive action,” said Dr. Heine. She called on the conference participants to work towards ensuring laws and policies were fully implemented and encouraged partnerships with NGOs and private sector leaders.
“Women in the Micronesian small island states face particular challenges such as their vulnerability to climate change and distance from markets. Most Micronesian countries are also challenged by level of domestic violence and rates of teenage pregnancies that are higher than Pacific averages,” said the director of SPC’s Social Development Program, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara. Looking towards the future she highlighted the importance of the declarations noting that “The conference declarations provide a road map for Micronesian governments to progress gender equality and empower women. The resolutions will also be carried forward to the sixth Pacific Women’s Triennial meeting to be held in Suva from October 2-5 this year.”
For further information about the conference program and observer status go to the conference website.
Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara – Email: [email protected]