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Thursday 11 April 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Economy, Local, National


Cook Islands champion women in Pacific fisheries
Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown delivers the opening address at the first ever Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) Forum in Honiara, Solomon Islands, earlier this week. Photo credit: SPC-PEUMP/Josaia Nanuqa/24041020

Cook Islands is committed to empowering small-scale fish entrepreneurs in the region, particularly women, by removing barriers to market access, says Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown.

Toki-Brown made these comments at the first ever Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) Forum organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC).

The three-day event held at the FFA Conference Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands this week facilitated discussions among over 60 leaders and representatives from FFA and SPC Members, civil societies organisation, the private sector, and development partners to deliberate on gender disparities and promote inclusivity.

The opening addresses on Monday (Cook Islands time) were delivered by Minister Toki-Brown, Niue Minister of Fisheries Mona Ainu’u, FFA Director General Dr Manu Tupou-Roosen and SPC Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls Mereseini Rakuita.

“We know there are different cultural aspect of each Pacific countries with the ocean has been there from our forefathers to today. Today, we stand united to address challenges amongst women in the fisheries sector,” Toki-Brown said.

“We acknowledge the need to rectify gaps in fisheries and ensure the equitable participation and decision-making. Moreover, we are committed to empowering small-scale fish entrepreneurs, particularly women by removing barriers to market access and providing them the necessary.

“Through open dialogue we can aim to create a way of equitable and sustainable for all.”

Dr Tupou-Roosen said the forum provided a platform for candid discussions, knowledge sharing, and collaborative problem-solving.

The participants delved into the challenges hindering the quantification of women’s roles, empower small-scale fish entrepreneurs and communities, and explore pathways to enhance inclusive participation in fisheries management and development.

The forum also aimed to spark meaningful conversations about diverse historic challenges such as recognition, increase in roles for women and socio-economic contribution of women to fisheries that have historically stalled the recognition and quantification of women’s roles and socio-economic contributions in fisheries.

It included plenary sessions, breakout discussions, and interactive panels to discuss pressing issues such as data gaps in women’s contributions, market development equity, and inclusive governance structures.

One of the forum’s core objectives was to enhance the participation of all stakeholders, especially women and marginalised groups, in fisheries management and development processes. This included developing supportive environments where these groups can effectively participate in decision-making.