Pacific Islands Forum promotes greater opportunity for rural women and girls

Through collective action as one Blue Pacific continent the Pacific Islands Forum will work to ensure that its most marginalised populations, especially women and girls in rural areas, share equally in the benefits of future development, President of the Republic of Marshall Islands, H.E Hilda Heine has told the sixty second session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York. 

Delivering a statement on behalf of the Forum, President Heine commended the Commission for focussing this year on the empowerment and development of rural women and girls saying, “this is especially important considering the impact of climate change related disasters that disproportionately affect rural Pacific communities where rural women are doubly impacted and fare worse than rural men and urban women due to their unequal status and often isolated and fragile locations.”

“The Pacific Islands Forum’s Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the landmark 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration underpin our collective and country level efforts in support of gender equality. We are committed to supporting rural Pacific women in key areas of:  gender responsive government policies and programmes; decision making and leadership; economic empowerment; ending violence against women and education and sexual reproductive health services.”

President Heine highlighted the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific as example of the Forum’s commitment towards prioritising vulnerable communities such as rural women in coordinating the region’s response to the adverse effects of climate change and disaster.  

“In addition, we are promoting regional initiatives that advance the rights of rural women through access to health, improved connectivity, appropriate, and accessible ICT, economic and social opportunities and better returns for women in the fisheries and agriculture sector, labour mobility opportunities, and realisation of the rights of rural women and girls with disabilities.”

President Heine stressed the importance of enabling rural women and girls to be meaningful partners in global efforts towards sustainable development and call for greater investment and promotion of global and regional programmes that aim at, “transforming social norms and addressing systematic discrimination faced by rural women in Pacific societies; build the resilience, leadership and empowerment of rural women, impacted by climate change and frequent and intensifying disasters; and support better connectivity, access to ICT, better infrastructure, safe transport and provision of essential health, justice, decent work, economic empowerment services including services for rural women subject to gender based violence.”

The sixty second session began on the 12th March and continues for the next two weeks.

A copy of the full speech is available from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website:

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