DIVA for Equality Fiji and Fiji Women’s Rights Movement hosted the Pacific Preparatory Meeting together with the Government of Fiji’s Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), and UN Women.
As the Political Coordinator of DIVA for Equality I was an opening speaker. In my message I launched a strong call for the Pacific to be known as a global gender justice champion; not just a climate justice champion, this message was warmly received by the room.
The preparatory Meeting affirmed Pacific key messages on gender equality for Beijing +25 Review. Together, government, civil society and regional organizations spent time to review the Pacific commitments towards advancing gender equality for the Beijing +25 Review. Committed to taking strategic, bold action in the 12 critical areas of concern: poverty, education and training, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, institutional mechanisms, human rights, media, environment, and the girl child, by trying to have a solid and grounded key message at the end of the three-day meeting.
The meeting was also an opportunity for Pacific governments to reflect on their achievements in gender equality over the past 25 years, and to finetune communication of Pacific positions on gender equality priorities in their preparations for key events in 2020 such as the 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) in March 2020 and the Global Equality Forums in Mexico (May 2020), France (2020) and the UN General Assembly in September 2020.
Including the perspectives from civil society and the women’s movement is integral to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in these intergovernmental spaces, therefore having this open dialogue to openly discuss our reflection as a region for the Beijing + 25 was very useful as it also affirmed the essential role CSOs and the women’s movement play alongside government.
During the meeting we strongly pushed for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and the recognition of these rights in the outcome statement of this preparatory meeting. We also pushed for the inclusion of women in all their diversity and highlighted the importance of taking actions to minimize the increasingly severe natural disasters in the region as climate crisis further poses a risk to women and girls, and all Pacific people.
The Pacific still has the lowest global percentages of women in formal leadership roles including the world’s lowest overall average of women in parliament. The Pacific also still has twice the global average of violence against women and there is a long way to go before we have addressed all forms of gender-based violence,discrimination and stigma, for all Pacific women and girls.
To achieve its commitments, PIF Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor acknowledged the importance of collaboration and partnerships. “Partnerships are crucial in advancing gender equality and addressing issues such as violence against women and girls. We must all work together to effectively address this issue –this is our only hope,” she said.
If states will not be open to productive and constructive criticism from CSO’s, the women’s movement and sustainable development agencies on what has been really going well, as much as what needs to be strategically handled in order to make progress on the twelve critical areas, all regionals preparatory meeting towards Reviewing Beijing+25 will be fruitless and ineffectual.