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Australia commended for promoting gender equality

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Helen Thompson
WVoN co-editor

UN women executive director, Michelle Bachelet, issued a press statement at the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Leaders’ meeting last week in support of Australia’s efforts to promote gender equality in the Pacific region.

Bachelet thanked the Australian government for its political and financial support of UN Women in the Pacific region and worldwide.

“From training the military and police to protect women’s rights, to providing skills to women entrepreneurs, to providing services to survivors of sexual violence, Australia is supporting women’s empowerment and equality on the ground,” Bachelet said.

In the week prior to the PIF, Bachelet visited Canberra where she commended Australia for its support of female leaders, saying: ”Seeing women in powerful positions, it opens the sky for young girls who thought they could never become a powerful person in the future.

”[Australia] is living a very special situation. You have the first Prime Minister that is a woman, but also you have the Governor-General, the Attorney-General, you have a lot of important authorities that are women.”

At the PIF Leaders’ meeting Bachelet highlighted the particular problems women in the Pacific face, from the lack of agency in Pacific governments, to limited economic opportunities and high incidents of gender-based violence.

The plans UN Women have for promoting gender equality in the Pacific include positioning women in climate change discussions to ensure that they become part of the policy-making process.

Pacific leaders at this year’s forum endorsed a Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration which commits Pacific governments to promote national policies that will improve the status of women in their nations, including implementing temporary special measures to facilitate women’s participation in government and politics, senior management in private business.

Pacific leaders have also agreed to reform legislation to include equal employment opportunities and equal pay as well as providing financial support and training for female business-owners.

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