Ongoing leadership needed for Pacific Island commitments
Ongoing leadership needed to advance Pacific Island Forum commitments
Wellington, 12 September 2011
The New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) commends Pacific Leaders on another successful Pacific Island Forum. In the Forum Communiqué leaders made many important commitments which require ongoing action in the region.
NZPPD supports the pledges made in the Waiheke Declaration to improve the health status of Pacific peoples so they can enjoy more productive lives and relieve the burden on Pacific economies. Expanded access to sexual and reproductive health information and services is an essential component of this promise. The commitments made to expand educational opportunities for women and to increase their participation in educational and labour markets also require further investment in sexual and reproductive health.
NZPPD would also like to congratulate Kiribati President Anote Tong on the leadership shown in addressing sexual and gender based violence. Mr Tong accepted an Amnesty International and Women's Rights and Advocacy in the Pacific supported petition with 21,000 signatures which called for leaders to implement laws to prevent violence, punish offenders and compensate survivors, and to put into practise human rights conventions that protect women from violence.
NZPPD welcomes commitments made to increase the representation of women in Pacific legislatures. The Pacific region currently has the lowest representation of women in parliament of any in the world. NZPPD Chair Dr Jackie Blue says there are positive moves in this regard with the much awaited Equality and Participation Bill being tabled in Papua New Guinea's parliament, and the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, Danny Philip, committing to introduce temporary special measures to reserve seats for women prior to the next election.
NZPPD recognises the expertise of civil society organisations working in the Pacific and supports the Secretary General's initiative to convey to the Forum the views of civil society on a range of challenges facing the region NZPPD supports the Leaders' desire to meaningfully engage with civil society in order to find the best path forward.
According to Dr. Blue, "The Forum meeting highlighted the complexity of the challenges in the region, and the need for "strong leadership - not just to make the commitments but to follow them through."