Cook Islands to benefit from new $1m Pacific sexual and gender diverse network partnership

Wednesday 13 October 2021 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National

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Cook Islands to benefit from new   $1m Pacific sexual and gender diverse network partnership
New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Helena Cook. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/21092901

Cook Islands New Zealand High Commission has put its weight behind a new sexual and gender diverse network partnership in the Pacific.

Deputy High Commissioner Helena Cook said on National Coming Out Day October 11, New Zealand announced a new partnership with the Fiji-based Pacific Sexual and Gender Diverse Network (PSGDN) to support the rights for persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) in the Pacific.

“In terms of benefit to the Cook Islands, PSGDN is actively engaged in regional architecture such as the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and is committed to enhancing Pacific voices on SOGIESC-related rights internationally.

“The network spans 14 Pacific Island countries and territories, including the Cook Islands,” Cook said.

In a statement from the New Zealand High Commission, $1 million has been committed to funding several key objectives.  

  • A strengthened and well-resourced regional organisation capable of advancing SOGIESC-related rights in the Pacific;
  • Implementation of programmes at both domestic and regional levels that will support meaningful progress on SOGIESC-related rights;
  • A small sub-granting mechanism to support national level organisations; and
  • Greater Pacific participation and voices on SOGIESC-related issues in international fora.

Cook said New Zealand is committed to the realisation of human rights for all people, including persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.  

“PSGDN is an important civil society organisation working to advance SOGIESC-related rights in the Pacific, and for the well-being of Pacific Islanders of diverse SOGIESC.

“Our partnership with PSGDN will provide funding to help protect and advance the rights of all persons of diverse SOGIESC, and SOGIESC-related rights in the Pacific.

Cook said Covid-19 had highlighted the critical need to increase targeted support to disproportionately affected communities, such as persons of diverse SOGIESC. 

“New Zealand’s partnership acknowledges the challenges to realising SOGIESC-related rights, and commits New Zealand to supporting the enhancement of inclusive well-being and prosperity for all people in the Pacific. “  

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