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Letter: Where are the women at the Pacific Islands Forum Leadership?

Wednesday 8 November 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Where are the women at the Pacific Islands  Forum Leadership?

Dear Editor, The leadership line up in the Cook Islands News Pacific Islands Forum Supplement on Saturday and again at the opening of the Forum yesterday was a sad gender affair. PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa of Samoa was the only woman leader.

As Nic Maclellan pointed out in Islands Business on November 4, there is “a notable retreat of women from top leadership positions across the region. The days when three women led the Forum Secretariat – Meg Taylor, Cristelle Pratt and Andie Fong Toy – are long gone. Role models like Dr. Hilda Heine and Jacinda Ardern have lost office, while key officials like Anna Naupa of the Pacific Fusion Centre and Forum Fisheries Agency Director-General Manu Tupou-Roosen are ending their terms of office”. What will this mean for gender issues in the Pacific, and at the Forum? Is there even an acknowledgement that this Forum is very much a male affair.

Of course, there are many women at the Forum, playing important roles, but they are not making the political decisions.

There is some hope, however. The third item on the Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity Initiatives is Reinvigorating Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLGED). Launched at the 2012 PIFLM in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, the Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration gave rise to an increasing emphasis on gender. It is imperative that reinvigorating the PLGED provide the impetus to meet commitments made in 2012. The Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity has put forward the following proposal: This partnership seeks to have a renewed commitment by PIF Leaders to strengthening Gender Equality in the Pacific.

But will this actually happen? And how will the lack of women in leadership positions be rectified?

Professor Heather Worth

Director, Te Puna Vai Marama, the Cook Islands Centre for Research


Dr Jenny Te Paa Daniel on 08/11/2023

E te tuahine Te Puna Vai Marama, nga mihi nunui mo tenei panui. E tika ana to korero - kei hea nga wahine rangatira ki waenganui tenei roopu teitei rawa? E tika ana kia whakama me te pouri! Dr Jenny Te Paa Daniel Aitutaki.