This year’s theme for International Women’s Day – Break the Bias is a reminder for us as an organisation of the ongoing work needed in this critical area of gender equality. For women and girls in our region to feel safe, be included in decision making, participate in public life and contribute to the overall development of our countries, we need to break the bias. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. Whether deliberately or unconsciously, bias makes it difficult for women to achieve their full potential. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.
We need to relook at the positive aspects of our Pacific cultures that embrace and celebrate women and girls as key contributing members of our families and our societies. We must ensure more women and girls are educated and have access to employment opportunities in both the formal and informal sectors, and we need to address the high rates of violence against women and girls.
SPC has committed to ensuring our Divisions are strengthening their people-centred approach in support of our member countries to ensure that gender mainstreaming is a key aspect of the support we provide.
SPC’s flagship gender program – Pacific Women Lead gives us the opportunity to amplify work in the region to progress gender equality and to Break the Bias. Progressing Gender Equality commitments in the region continues to be a priority for SPC. As the Secretariat for the Triennial Conference for Pacific Women and the Ministers for Women meeting, it is key that we continue to work with our member States to implement the commitments of the Pacific Platform for Action, Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and many other regional and international commitments. SPC is also the Secretariat of the Regional Working Group on the Implementation of Domestic Violence legislation, working closely with the lead government ministries that coordinate the implementation of domestic violence laws to ensure we are moving from law to practice.
We continue to work with our member countries to develop and review legislation and policies that ensure the rights of women and girls are embedded. We also work closely with government ministries to ensure that gender is mainstreamed in national strategies and programmes that are implemented, while also supporting key services that provide the initial assistance for survivors of domestic violence. This is important for us at this time as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters has impacted the ability of survivors of domestic violence to access services and information.
Happy International Women’s Day.