Inclusion of women in decision-making roles

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Members of the Pacific Island Forum Meeting sign a reform package that contains commitments that deepen trust, and political cohesion across our region. Picture: FIJIAN GOVT

Withoutthe full inclusion of women in decision-making roles, we have zero hope of achieving effective practical solutions to the myriad of 21st-century challenges we face, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

While delivering his opening address at the Pacific Islands Forum Women Leaders Meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva on Thursday, Mr Bainimarama said it had taken us decades to convene a woman-centred political forum, despite the data telling us of the multiple barriers our girls and women were up against.

“Up to 60 per cent of women and girls in our region have experienced violence at the hands of their partners or family members,” he said.

“The inter-parliamentary union reported that globally, women comprise 25.5 per cent of national parliamentarians as of January 2021, but the percentage of women in Pacific parliaments was around 6.4 per cent.

“As a father of five hard-working daughters, these numbers alarmed me.”

Mr Bainimarama said the UN had continued to warn us that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and threatened to roll back decades of hard-won progress in the fight against inequality.

“Women’s Employment, for example, fell globally by 4.2 per cent in 2020, compared with 3 per cent for men, as sectors in which women tend to work more, such as tourism was revered by necessary restrictions used to curb the spread of the virus.

“Now, however, as our bodies across our region continue to reopen to the world, and new life is built into our economies, Fiji is more optimistic than ever, that the disruptions we have painfully endured over the last two years can be shaped into something better.

“I believe that now, more than ideally at a point in history, the Pacific is primed and ready for a regional development reset, one that not only includes women more fully, but that is genuinely cool led by women from trade, agriculture and industrial policies to education, training and labour market needs, from environmental challenges to human rights-based solutions.”

Mr Bainimarama said women leaders’ meetings had brought to the table thinkers and doers from across our blue Pacific with the power to make change happen by design.

“We can only achieve more sustainable solutions for our people if men and women work together as equals.”

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