Gender a priority at the Micronesia Islands Forum



Gender a priority at the Micronesia Islands Forum 


This week’s 26th Micronesia Islands Forum has gender equality as a key topic including completion plans for the Pacific’s first sub-regional gender framework. 

The Micronesia Gender Equality Framework’s development was endorsed in 2023 by the 25th Micronesia Islands Forum, reflecting the sub-region’s commitment by leaders to improve gender equality within its jurisdictions.  

Gender Equality is a critical lever for attaining a prosperous and sustainable Micronesia region.  Having our leaders talk about gender equality this week is a show of their commitment to leaving no one behind,” according to Co-Chair of the Gender Equality Committee (GEC), Mr Stuard Penias, Assistant Secretary for the Division of Social Affairs, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). 

In the days prior to this year’s MIF, being held in Guam 2-5 June, members of the MIF’s Gender Equality Committee gathered from 30 May to 1 June 2024.  

SPC’s Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls, Mereseini Rakuita, joined a Pacific Community (SPC) team supporting the cohort of officials from MIF member governments of the MIF Gender Equality Committee (GEC).  

Through the meeting, the GEC drafted a brief for the MIF on progress towards completing the Framework while discussing other critical gender equality achievements and challenges. The GEC members detailed how the final Framework will provide a clear vision and priorities to Micronesia Principals/Presidents and Governors from Guam, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, FSM Government, FSM State of Chuuk, FSM State of Kosrae, FSM State of Pohnpei, FSM State of Yap, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau.  

The GEC is one of 14 committees of the MIF, which meets annually to strengthen closer collaborations, cooperation and to agree on priority initiatives to benefit members across the Micronesia sub-region.  


About the MIF 

The MIF was formerly known as the Western Micronesia Chief Executives Summit and began in 2003, introducing gender to the MIF’s suite of committees in 2019. Here’s an overview of key meetings: 


  • June 2024: 26th Micronesia Islands Forum, Guam.  
  • 30 May-1 June 2024: 3rd MIF Gender Equality Committee (GEC) meeting. Co-Chairpersons: Stuard Penias & Jayne Flores, Director, Bureau of Gender & Community Affairs. Guam. Presentation MIF from GEC: Brenda Alik, Secretary, Ministry of Culture & Internal Affairs, Republic of Marshall Islands.  
  • July 2023: 2nd MIF Gender Equality Committee (GEC) meeting focused primarily on the development of the Micronesian Gender Equality Framework with support from the Pacific Community (SPC). Chair: FSM Assistant Secretary, Division of Social Affairs, Stuard Penias: Uniquely Micronesian – First sub-regional gender equality framework in motion.
  • February 13-17 2023: 25th Micronesia Islands Forum, FSM, Pohnpei (deferred due to COVID-19 travel restrictions):  Micronesian Leaders make gender equality a priority.
  • February 9-10 2023: 1st MIF Gender Equality Committee (GEC) meeting, chaired by FSM Assistant Secretary, division of Social Affairs, Stuard Penias. Resolution 25-04 in the 25th Communique of MIF. 
  • 2019: 24th Micronesia Islands Forum, FSM, Chuuk. Ms Molly Helkena, on behalf of RMI, tabled to MIF the creation of the Gender Equality Committee. The Governments of Palau and US Territory of Guam supported the motion and approved by MIF.  
  • 2003: First forum held. The Micronesia Islands Forum (MIF) began as the Western Micronesia Chief Executives Summit with the US Territory of Guam, US Territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), FSM State of Yap, Republic of Palau.


In 2019, at the 24th MIF, hosted by the Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM) State of Chuuk, members endorsed a recommendation made by the Republic of Marshall Islands ‘stressing the ongoing need to support gender equality in the islands and requested the creation of a Standing Gender Equality Committee within the MIF.’  


As a result of the 24th MIF, the MIF’s Gender Equality Committee was formed.  


Usually annual, the 25th MIF was held several years later in February 2023 due to the travel restrictions and lockdown that arose out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was hosted by the FSM National Government in Pohnpei. 


The 25th MIF Communique directed its Gender Equality Committee to ‘develop a Micronesia Islands Forum Gender Equality Framework that advances the empowerment of Micronesia women in all sectors of society.’  


The Micronesia Gender Equality Framework, to be a first for the Pacific, may serve as an example and encourage others in the Pacific.  


The MIF also tasked its GEC to ‘support and endorse the strengthening of gender mainstreaming through sectoral work and support the mobilisation of resources to achieve gender equality outcomes.’ The GEC was tasked to:  

  • Develop a Micronesia regional gender equality framework. 
  • Mainstream gender into sectoral work. 
  • Mobilise resources to affect these outcomes and  
  • Develop strategies to eliminate violence against women and girls. 


During the 25th MIF, members also agreed to recommendations from the first convening of the GEC in 2023 and adopted Resolution 25-04 that member jurisdictions would ‘ensure the advancement of women in Micronesia’ through key initiatives.   


These initiatives aim to:  

  1. Strengthen gender mainstreaming through sectoral work.

  2. Mobilise resources to achieve gender equality outcomes.

  3. Develop a Gender Equality Framework that advances the empowerment of women in all areas of society and

  4. Improving the future lives of all women and girls by eliminating gender-based violence.  


The new MIF Gender Equality Committee (GEC) 

Following the 25th MIF, the Gender Equality Committee (GEC) was held in July 2023 and focussed on advancing the development of the Micronesia Gender Equality Framework. 


It was coordinated by the Pacific Community (SPC) through its Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) division and the Women in Leadership (WIL) programme, funded by Pacific Women Lead supported by the Australian Government. 


The Gender Equality Committee (GEC) members believe that by addressing gender disparities, promoting women’s economic empowerment, and ensuring their active participation in sustainable development initiatives, Micronesia can foster inclusive growth, reduce poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).   


SPC provided GEF members with technical and funding support, and an update on its new Gender Equality Flagship. The Flagship demonstrates SPC’s commitment, investment and action to accelerate its work on gender equality across its internal operations and external programming.  

The GEC is amongst 10 other Committees of MIF that had been established to provide technical advice on various measures that would be of benefit to members and the Micronesia sub-region. The Committees include: 

  • Micronesia Challenge,  
  • Tourism,  
  • Pacific Islands Regional Recycling Initiative Council, 
  • Health, 
  • Energy,  
  • Regional Invasive Species Council, 
  • Information, Communication and Technology,  
  • Transportation,
  • Education and  
  • Marine Resources. 


For more information about the work of SPC supporting the Micronesia forum and framework: Uniquely Micronesian – First sub-regional gender equality framework in motion.



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