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We need more women leaders – Puna

There must be better visibility, coordination, and ownership of gender equality at national and regional levels across the region, according to the Pacific Islands Forum general secretary Henry Puna.

He made the opening remarks at the start of the Forum Women Leaders’ meeting on Thursday in Suva.

Joined virtually by the top female leaders of the region, the meeting discussed the review of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration which was made in 2012 in Rarotonga.

In 2021, an independent review of the Declaration was undertaken. The review revealed that there is still a lot to be done to achieve this.

Figures have been established that show there is very little representation of women at leadership level, especially in politics.

The Pacific Forum Women Leaders meeting at the Forum Secretariat in Suva. 2 Picture: PIFS

Papua New Guinea currently has no women in parliament. The population of PNG is an estimated nine million people, half of these being women.

Mr Puna said the independent review findings showed there was work to be done and included the need for better alignment of all gender equality related actions and to other priorities.

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“The independent review also highlights the need for a strong governance and oversight mechanism that can support progress on gender equality and be a conduit for shared learning,” he said.

“It is for this reason that we are revitalizing the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration to ensure it truly delivers for Pacific women and girls, in all their diversity.”

There must be better visibility, coordination, and ownership of gender equality at national and regional levels across the region, according to the Pacific Islands Forum general secretary Henry Puna. Picture: PIFS

Mr Puna said as the Pacific is finalising the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, it should represent the region’s commitment to collective action to develop long-term approaches to critical challenges including gender issues.

The meeting is chaired by Fiji’s Minister for Women Rosy Akbar.

The meeting will discuss the independent review and hear from major actors in the regions who have been working in fields to promote gender equality, creating awareness on gender based violence and changing mindsets.

Resolutions from the meeting will be put forward to the Forum Leaders when they meet in Suva from July 12 to July 14.

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