Introductory Remarks by SPC Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls Mereseini Rakuita at the Micronesia Ministers for Women Conference


Micronesian Ministers for Women Conference (MMWC)
Nauru, 16-18 April 2024
Introductory Remarks by the Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls (SPC)


  • His Excellency the President of Nauru, Hon. David Adeang
  • The Minister for Women and Social Development Affairs of the Government of Nauru, Hon. Charmaine Scotty
  • Senator Daisy Alik Momotaro of the Republic of Marshall Islands
  • Miss Nauru, Rosita Rokobuli
  • Pastor Jezza Agadio
  • Excellencies Senior Government Representatives of Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, Palau, and the Republic of Marshall Islands.
  • Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corp
  • Representatives of Non-Government Organisations in the Micronesian Subregion
  • Development Partners
  • My CROP colleagues from SPC, PIFS and PIDP
  • Resource personnel
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen

Warm Pacific Greetings to you all.

In the Pacific, we keep hearing that so much has been spent on gender equality and yet we are not shifting the dial as quickly as we would like to see.  My response to that is – we cannot be doing business as usual and expect a different result.  We have been treating gender equality as a women’s issue only for far too long.  Gender equality is about national development; it is about human rights; it is about sustainable economies and peaceful societies; it is about recognising that half of our Pacific population are women and girls and as such their voices, interests, concerns, aspirations and leadership are needed if we are to unleash our full potential as a region. We simply cannot attain our collective Vision for the region if we leave half of our population behind.  

We need to be more innovative in our approach.  We need new ways of doing business. We need to acknowledge and recognise the critical role that our cultures and our religions play and their impact on our efforts.  We cannot afford to shy away from the hard topics.  We need to investigate how we can use those same systems that have been part of our identity to inform our contextualised solutions to our gender equality challenges.   Pacific cultures are diverse.  We have three sub-regions that are contextually very different from each other and also diverse internally as well. It is time to strengthen our subregional mechanisms to bolster, complement and make real in our context, our regional gender equality architecture. 

This convening brings together key stakeholders for gender equality for the Micronesian subregion with the aim of articulating pressing gender equality issues for our subregion and driving our collective efforts in that regard.  It is a convening that recognizes the unique matrilineal systems that exist in most of our countries.  It is a convening that recognizes our Micronesian way of knowing and doing and is anchored in our rich cultures and traditions. A culture that is respectful, collaborative, inclusive and finds great value in the diversity within our subregion. One that recognises the strength in the sum of our collective parts.

I have been asked to speak about Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) support in the context of gender equality in Micronesia.  CROP agencies are here as regional civil servants to serve our member countries in accordance with the different mandates we have been given.  Just as you tap into your collective strengths to drive your sub-regional agenda for gender equality, it is also imperative for us as CROP agencies to collaborate and pool our collective abilities when delivering on the regional or in this case the subregional agenda for gender equality.

From SPC’s perspective, the Pacific Women Lead (PWL) programme Outcome area 3: ‘Pacific ownership and regional effectiveness’, provides a pathway for SPC to lead on regional action and advocacy for gender equality, through CROP mechanisms and the CROP Women of the Wave (WOW) network; SPC’s Women in Leadership (WIL) programme’s third pillar ‘SPC demonstrates strong engagement with CROP and PICT leaders in advancing women’s leadership, women’s rights, and equality across the regional architecture’ complements this outcome area. SPC has been carrying out programmatic work on gender equality in member countries for decades.

Partnerships are critical and powerful. Through partnerships we aggregate our experience, expertise and knowledge, making the work we do, better informed and more effective – within nations, working across Pacific countries, between regions and globally. Here in the Pacific, we are blessed with the unique partnership approach of CROP agencies.  This Conference is yet another example of CROP agencies working together, and with the member countries we serve, to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for Micronesia.

We are having this conference at a critical junction of our regional journey for gender equality.  This year marks the 30th year of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As a region we should be proud that our Pacific Platform for Action on the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality (PPA) predated the Beijing Platform for Action. Last year our leaders endorsed the revitalised Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration and, in a few months, we head into the 15th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women, the 8th Meeting of Pacific Women Ministers and the 3rd PIF Women Leaders Meeting

I acknowledge our colleagues who are here from the Republic of Marshall Islands, who are hosting the Triennial in July. The Triennial is coordinated every third year by SPC and partners, and is this year primarily funded by the Australian Government through Pacific Women Lead, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through PROJECT Governance. I also acknowledge our colleagues from Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFs) who lead coordination of the PIF Women Leaders Meeting, held annually and to be connected to the Triennial this year.

Supporting the development of your Micronesian Gender Equality Framework has been a real honour for SPC working in close collaboration with PIDP, PIFS and other CROP agencies. 

We have seen remarkable progress on women’s rights on many fronts in recent decades. But these gains are far from consistent. It has been a long journey and the path we have treaded has not been an easy one but the commitment to forge ahead to a more gender-equal Pacific has remained strong at regional level and even more so in Micronesia at the sub-regional level.

Like the rest of the Pacific and the rest of the world, the Micronesian sub-region is facing major developmental challenges that permeate national boundaries and which demand innovative, transformative and multi-faceted solutions.  Today, you stand together as a beacon – showing the rest of the Pacific through your solidarity that you take ownership of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a high priority developmental agenda item for the sub-region.

The Micronesian sub-region is well-positioned to accelerate the implementation of our collective aspirations under the PLGED (Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration) and the PPA (Pacific Platform for Action on gender equality).  You have national platforms like the FSM Women’s Conference, the Palauan Mechesil Belau Conference and other national women’s conferences that have the potential to feed into this sub-regional convening which together make up the critical pathway to Micronesian Leaders at the MIF through the MIF GE Committee.  You are convening now so you can have a collective voice at the Triennial and beyond.  The work that your GEC of the MIF is currently undertaking in developing the Micronesian GEF is innovative.  It is well-intentioned, strategic, contextualised interventions as such that can make a huge difference in the impact of our efforts on the ground.

I note that this Conference will focus on four critical priorities for gender equality – Women’s Economic Empowerment, Violence Against Women and Girls, Women’s Health and Education; with the cross-cutting themes of disabilities and culture.  Whilst these are thematic issues that may be common to a lot of jurisdictions in the Pacific and beyond, what makes the discussions here unique is that the issues will be unpacked from a Micronesian subregional perspective which will contextualise these gender equality issues in narratives that are familiar to us as a subregion.

I wish you all the best in the next 3 days and stand here committed to support you, and all our partners in Micronesia, as you create new approaches and smart solutions to empower women and improve on our collective efforts for gender equality.

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Human Rights and Social Development
Women in Leadership Programme
Micronesia Regional Office
Pacific Women Lead Programme
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP)
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS)