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“Today marks a milestone for us as a sub-region; starting the process for bringing into life the aspirations of our leaders in relation to a more gender-equal Micronesian region.”
These were the words of the Chair of the Micronesian Islands Forum Gender Equality Committee and the Federated States of Micronesia Assistant-Secretary for Social Affairs, H.E. Stuard Penias, at the opening of the Strategic Planning Meeting to develop the first Micronesian Gender Equality Framework.
The meeting was convened by the Gender Equality Committee, with the Pacific Community (SPC) providing culture and gender technical specialist support requested by the committee.
“It is my hope that we will have a draft framework for validation and socialisation by the Triennial [Conference of Pacific Women] next July in the Marshall Islands, before it is tabled before the 26th Micronesia Islands Forum in February 2025 for adoption,” continued H.E. Penias. “I wish you well in your deliberations as we work together towards a Gender Equality Framework for Micronesia.”
SPC is pleased to support the committee as it establishes the Pacific’s first sub-regional Gender Equality Framework to collaborate alongside fellow Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) agency – Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP).
“Commitment or political will must always be followed by action on the ground if we are to see any change in society,” said Mereseini Rakuita, SPC’s Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls.
“The Gender Equality Framework is an attempt to guide actions and strategies on the ground that are uniquely Micronesian – led and driven by Micronesians for Micronesia,” she said.
Over the three-day meeting, key stakeholders discussed and identified key priorities for advancing gender equality in the sub-region and the progress for developing the framework.
These discussions also provided an opportunity to engage relevant stakeholders in the formation of additional mechanisms that will enhance and strengthen efforts to promote gender equality in Micronesia and the broader Pacific region: SPC’s Gender Flagship. Some of the work that comprises the flagship includes SPC’s engagement with the CROP Women of the Wave (WOW) Network.
“We fully support the WOW Network's aims to inspire women in the international governmental organisations in the Pacific to further their career and leadership aspirations and to expand the connections and opportunities in a sector where there are few women in senior positions,” outlined Dr Jerelyn Watanabe, representing PIDP.
“PIDP strives to create opportunities for the advancement of women and address historical imbalances through programming, partnerships, and staffing. PIDP remains committed to this important work in partnership with organisations like SPC and with the delegates of this meeting.”
At the sub-regional level, Micronesia is the first sub-region to embark on the development of a gender equality framework since the 2012 Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration. Alongside the ongoing revitalisation of the PLGED, Micronesian Leaders at the 25th Micronesian Islands Forum (MIF) in February 2023 affirmed their decision for their MIF Gender Equality Committee to progress work: to develop a Micronesian regional gender equality framework; mainstream gender into sectoral work; and mobilise resources to affect these outcomes.
The Micronesia Gender Equality Framework will be developed over the next 24 months and presented to Micronesian Leaders at the 26th Micronesia Islands Forum in 2025. The Strategic Planning Meeting to develop the first Micronesian Gender Equality Framework was held at the East-West Center in Hawaii from 11 to 13 July.
By Sian Rolls