Pacific-led board to drive strategic direction of Pacific Women Lead

A newly-established Pacific Women Lead (PWL) Governance Board is set to drive the strategy and high-level decision making for the Pacific regional gender equality portfolio, championing the advancement of women across the region.

The board comprises a majority of Pacific women leaders including representatives from the Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and 10 independent members.

Pacific Women Lead is Australia’s flagship regional investment in advancing gender equality in the Pacific ($170 million over five years, 2021–2026). This funding commitment is in addition to Australia’s existing bilateral gender equality partnerships.

“This is a milestone in the history of gender equity in this region and I thank everyone for their participation in this inaugural Pacific Women Lead Governance Board meeting. In particular, to my fellow members of the board, I thank them for their commitment, leadership and willingness to serve on this board – as we guide Pacific Women Lead as it addresses issues and challenges faced by women and girls in the Pacific,” said Governance Board Chair, Dr Audrey Aumua.

The 13-member board will oversee the roll-out of gender equality initiatives led by PWL’s key implementing partner, SPC, in addition to providing strategic advice to guide both the regional implementation and bilateral partnerships.

“It is vital to the success of Pacific Women Lead to embody a Pacific-led approach – not just in terms of programming but also in its decision-making systems and partnerships. We look forward to supporting the members of this Governance Board in supporting the programme to improve the lives of women and girls in the region,” said Miles Young, Director of SPC’s Human Rights and Social Development Division – within which the PWL at SPC and the Governance Board Secretariat is embedded.

The initial roster of board members has been directly appointed by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Each board member is nominated for a two-year period, with the potential of future members nominated via direct appointment and wide-reaching expressions of interest processes. Two members were selected to the Pacific Women Lead Governance Board as part of the intentional transition of knowledge and relationships from the predecessor programme, Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women).

The full membership includes: Dr Audrey Aumua (transitioning member and Chair), Rev James Bhagwan (Deputy Chair), Alexander Su'a, ‘Ana Malia Falemaka, Ethel Sigimanu (transitioning member), Hon Nadine Jalabert, Rhema Misa, Susil Nelson-Kongoi, Tahina Booth, Teretia Tokam, Mereseini Rakuita (ex-officio member, SPC), Paki Ormsby (ex-officio member, PIFS) and Julianne Cowley (ex-officio member, DFAT).

Useful link(s):
For more information about the Governance Board members, please visit:

Media contact(s):
Sian Rolls, Communications Officer, Pacific Community (SPC), Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division – Pacific Women Lead | [email protected]
Jacqui Berrell, Communications Adviser, Pacific Community (SPC), Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division – Pacific Women Lead | [email protected]
For general media enquiries, please contact [email protected].

About SPC:
The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organisation in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories. 
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About PWL:
One of the largest global commitments to gender equality, Pacific Women Lead (PWL) aims to promote women’s leadership, realise women’s rights, and increase the effectiveness of regional gender equality efforts. The PWL goal is that ‘Pacific women and girls, in all their diversity, are safe and equitably share in resources, opportunities and decision-making, with men and boys’. The programme focuses on: women’s leadership, women’s rights (women’s health, including sexual and reproductive health, women’s safety, and women’s economic empowerment), and regional gender equality efforts.