The Fiji Times

Emphasis on gender discrimina­tion tops agenda


THE Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Women Leaders meeting has supported Fiji’s proposal to host an extraordin­ary session of the Convention on the Eliminatio­n of All Forms of Discrimina­tion Against Women (CEDAW) Committee in 2025, with funding and secretaria­t services provided by the Pacific Community (SPC).

A statement released by SPC said this proposal would now be presented to the CEDAW Secretaria­t and the United Nations High Commission­er for Human

Rights for their decision on whether to proceed.

“In a resounding display of commitment to women’s equality, the Forum Women Leaders had endorsed this groundbrea­king initiative, emphasisin­g the importance of addressing gender discrimina­tion across the Pacific region as part of the recent Pacific Islands Forum Women Leaders Meeting held in Fiji from August 31 to September 1, 2023,” the statement read.

“This move aligns with the region’s focus on women’s rights, prominentl­y featured in the leader’s list of ten commitment­s within the Pacific

Islands 2050 Strategy for a Blue Pacific. Moreover, it builds upon the ongoing implementa­tion of the revitalise­d Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaratio­n and the widespread ratificati­on of the CEDAW.

“The positive outcome of the Pacific session of the 84th Committee on the Rights of the Child in Samoa in 2020 shows that regional meetings can speed up human rights progress and help drive the implementa­tion of internatio­nal commitment­s. A Pacific CEDAW session is expected to boost the gender equality agenda similarly.”

While presenting the paper to the other Pacific women leaders, Women, Children and Social Protection Minister Lynda Tabuya shared the ambition among Pacific nations to amplify the voices of women and girls across all spheres of life.

She said the challenge of limited representa­tion at UN human rights treaty committees because of protocol and cost barriers meant that the committee did not get to hear invaluable first-hand evidence on which it could base its concluding observatio­ns.

Ms Tabuya further highlighte­d the need for better contextual understand­ing, as only one

Forum Island Country representa­tive has ever served on any UN Treaty Body Committee.

She also shared the importance of having more Pacific Island representa­tives on UN Treaty Bodies to provide an understand­ing of regional contexts, ultimately leading to more relevant concluding observatio­ns and general comments.

Fiji also proposed a program of support to help representa­tives of Forum Island Countries to be elected to these prestigiou­s and influentia­l treaty body committees, again through the backing of SPC and their developmen­t partners.

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