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Statement of Nauru Parliamentarian on VAW

Nauru - Statement of Nauru Parliamentarian on VAW

Statement of Hon. Aloysius Amwano, M.P., Parliament of Nauru, during the Pacific Parliamentary Assembly on Population and Development and Forum Presiding Officers and Clerks (PPAPD-FPOC)

Rarotonga, Cook Islands, November 17, 2009

Mr. Chairman,

I am very honoured to contribute on the topic of gender equality, a topic I feel has been left on the orders of the day for too long without action.

Please allow me to reflect a little on gender balance and its progress in Nauru.

We have far more women than men in Nauru and because we are good Christians we can only attract or be attracted to only one whom we shall call wife. For those of you who know me personally, yes I was once a naughty Christian, but I have reformed and I am now wiser from those interactions.

In 2002 the Government of Nauru decided to expand the department of Women's Affairs by creating a Ministry of Women's Affairs. I was very privileged to have been given the portfolio making me the first Minister for Women's Affairs on Nauru.

Fortunately, through my substantive portfolio as Finance Minister, we managed to gain the confidence of Parliament in providing significant funds to the national budget to enable our women to participate at regional and international conventions on women's affairs. The parliamentary support continues in Nauru today.

In that same year some women were appointed to some of the most senior positions in the public service; Chief Secretary, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Secretary for Education and Consul General to Australia. To this day, these positions are still occupied by women with the exception of Foreign Affairs. In addition, our Ambassador to the United Nations is a woman and currently Nauru boasts its first and only PhD holder, also a woman.

Nauru recognizes that violence against women is a human rights issue, a health issue, a policing issue but most importantly a family issue.

Nauru has already addressed gender during our recent constitutional review to ensure that our constitution allows equal rights to men and women and that no discrimination is allowed through old practices, traditions and languages of our first constitution.

The governments of Kiribati and Solomon Islands and Samoa are to be commended for doing the difficult research (on Gender Based Violence) which has concreted their governments' actions to solve the problems.

We in the Pacific pride ourselves in valuing the concept of family.

We Parliamentarians, therefore, must now act together as beacons of democracy to restore the dignity and safety to our families by adopting a ZERO TOLERANCE attitude towards violence against women and children. We must legislate for gender equality and protection.

I was not voted or elected champion for gender equality, I volunteered.

I volunteered because I know I will be meeting many great men of integrity and influence at this meeting. Great men such as Hon. Tom Masters (Cook Islands), Hon, Fredriko Primo ( FSM), Hon. Taomati Iuta (Kiribati), Hon. Teatao Teannaki (Kiribati), Hon. Teatu Moutu Kaibuariki (Kiribati), Hon. Roati Le Mamea (Samoa), Hon. Sir Tomu Sione (Tuvalu), Hon. Valdon Dowiyogo (Nauru), and many more who I am confident will join me to help eradicate all forms of violence against women and children.

At the First Conference of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community held in Tahiti, the first woman Director General of SPC was appointed. I was so fortunate to have her beside me advising me as I chaired the Second Conference of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Noumea. Today I look around this conference room and it is so encouraging to see many more women participating in our regional development and decision-making.

It is sad to note that although much progress on this issue has taken place in Nauru, we still have to provide a safe house and services for the protection of women from violence and abuse.

Many of us in the Parliament are working toward eradicating violence and abuse against women. We currently have no women in our Parliament and we are persevering in empowering our women with confidence so they can become members of Parliament. Someday very soon we are confident to achieve this desired outcome. This outcome can only be achieved with some push, a push similar to the final painful push that women provide so we could be born into this world.

Only yesterday as we discussed and searched for solutions towards the effects of climate change, we agreed on unity under a common voice. This unity cannot be achieved unless we have gender equality.

Gentlemen, we have always referred to her as our better half, yet we use tradition as an excuse for her to walk behind us rather than with us.

Today I call upon you all great men and women to join in and eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination against women. Most important of all, together let us legislate, protect and promote gender equality.

Thank you.

ENDS

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