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The Pacific Islands Forum will have an independent review of the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration and host a Pacific Women Leaders event in 2021.
Announcing the news in her opening comments to a Gender-Responsive Budgeting Training for Fiji civil society leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva this week ,Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor says the review “is an opportunity to take stock of our commitments and how we have tracked” on the commitments made.
“More importantly, it is an opportunity to review what has worked and what has not worked as well, in order to refocus our national and regional programmes accordingly,” she added.
The 2012 Declaration commits to action in five key areas—government programmes and policies, decision making, economic empowerment, ending violence against women, and health and education.
Secretary General Dame Taylor noted the region continues to lag in terms of representation of women‘s voices at decision making level, and general progress on gender issues, compared to the rest of the world. The Pacific Forum Women Leaders Initiative will help to promote and ensure an enduring focus on the critical role gender has on issues in the region, she says.
The Gender-Responsive Budgeting Training runs for five-days and will enable civil society networks across Fiji, including Suva-based regional and international non-government organisations to help understand and provide inputs to governments tracking gender responsive national planning and budgeting processes.
Responding to the SG’s opening remarks, Adi Kavu Fong of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama I Taukei Cakaudrove said she was excited to be back after her first Forum Non-State Actors gender workshop attended last year. “Grassroots women’s groups are very critical, they are the stronghold of our communities and play a very important role in monitoring development initiatives, policies that affect us.”
OXFAM in the Pacific’s representative, Jale Samuwai welcomed the workshop, noting gender budgeting is something “we in the CSO community most often shy away from because of the perception that it might be too technical.”
He says the learnings of this week will help build understanding of the role of civil society to “increase knowledge of entry points out there where we can influence the budget process and ensure budgets capture the needs of women on the ground, ensure development is for all, and that no one falls through the cracks.”
A virtual regional workshop will follow this week’s face to face one. Both events are part of the multi-stakeholder Pacific Partnership aimed at ending gender-based violence in the region.
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