Dr Stuart Minchin, Director-General of the Pacific Community - Welcome Remarks at the 7th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women

  • The Minister for Family, Social Affairs and Feminine Condition of French Polynesia, Chair and Host of the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women, Honourable Isabelle Sachet    
  • The Prime Minister of Tonga, The Honourable Reverend Pohiva Tui’onetoa
  • The President of the Territorial Assembly, Wallis & Futuna, Her Excellency, Mrs Nivaleta Iloai
  • The Vice President and Minister of State of Palau, Her Excellency, Ms  Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau Senior  (Jerry lin U-dick Sang eh bow)
  • Ministers for Women
  • Heads of Delegations
  • Heads and Representatives of CROP Agencies, UN Agencies, Development Partners and civil society organisations
  • Dignitaries,  ladies and gentlemen

I am pleased to welcome you to the 7th Ministerial Conference of Pacific Women. We have just completed an intensive 3-days of discussions in the 14th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and I do hope everyone here has managed to get some rest in between.

Clearly, the virtual proceedings of the conference did not dampen discussions and contributions if the Conference outcomes document is anything to go by – and on that note I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the drafting committee, chaired by our hosts, the Government of French Polynesia for your wisdom, your patience and your support in pulling together the essence of the discussions in Conference.

I take this opportunity to also thank all member countries, including civil society organisations here for the quick turnaround in providing inputs to the outcomes document and for your agreement to this document which will be presented to our Ministers for Women today, for their endorsement.  

Reaching consensus is almost never an easy feat. However, I believe in regional agreements such as the Triennial conference outcomes, there is an element of compromise that is required. And by this I mean – at the end of the day, we know we each have our national laws and policies – we all know the cultural dynamics in which we operate and live. However, when it comes to the empowerment of women and ensuring that all women, in all their diversity have access to and control over their resources, their health, their livelihoods, and their lives, we must always aspire to the highest goals and standards we possibly can. In fact, many countries have already committed to this, through the ratification of CEDAW and other global and national gender and human rights instruments.

As I said last week, the Outcomes Document is key for women and girls in our region.  This is an Outcomes Document for all of us.  The next step, and the challenge, is to ensure that the region, collectively, governments with civil society and partners, take action to implement the recommendations.

Honorable Ministers, we now look to you as you deliberate further on these Triennial Outcomes and Recommendations.

I would like to reassure our Pacific Island governments, civil society and development partners that SPC stands ready to assist members to accelerate progress towards achieving gender equality and a full realisation of women’s human rights in our region.

To conclude, I offer my sincere gratitude and thanks to those who have worked very hard over the past 12 months to make the Triennial and this Ministerial meeting happen:  to the members of the steering committee, the triennial communications and programme working groups and of course our chair of the Conference, the Government of French Polynesia for your professionalism and stewardship; and the members of the SPC Team (the Human Rights & Social Development Division, and the IT, interpretation and sign language teams – all of whom supported this meeting from their individual homes); and to the donors, the Government of Australia and the Spotlight Initiative, an EUR funded programme.

Your excellencies, dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all robust and fruitful discussions today in the 7th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women and look forward to the outcomes.

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Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division