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Nuku’alofa – April 28, 2021: 9am (Nuku’alofa Times):  “It is critical that we all continue to recognize that women’s empowerment and gender equality, impacts on all aspects of life.”

That was the message from the Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon Rev Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa as he presented Tonga to the virtual meeting of the  14th Triennial Conferences of the Pacific Women and 7h Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women local event at the Faonelua Convention Centre here yesterday.

And he challenged regional leaders to fulfill their commitments to women, in accordance with national and international declarations they had committed to.

“We as leaders, should fulfil our commitments at the national level, to the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, the Pacific Plan of Action for Women’s Empowerment, Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights, and the Beijing Platform for Action,” he said.

“Tonga will continue to support the international community and development partners and to learn from, challenges, and strategies developed with progress made.”

Tonga’s team at the meet yesterday. Photo: MIA media

Hon Dr Pohiva is Tonga’s delegation leader to the meetings, which was opened yesterday in French Polynesia.

Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, conveyed his congratulations to the Conference “for recognizing Covid19, as a cross cutting theme” as  “over 5,000 people” in Tonga “have been vaccinated, and will continue until as many as, up to 70% of our people are immunized and protected”.

He added that a worrying trend seen in Tonga was that “during the Covid 19 lockdown, we noted a sharp increase of domestic violence”.

The 14th Triennial Conference for Pacific Women, Senior Officials Meeting and 7th Meeting of Pacific Ministers for Women, is led by the theme of “OUR HERITAGE, OUR FUTURE, EMPOWERING ALL WOMEN IN THE BLUE PACIFIC CONTINENT”.

This is the 14th Meeting of Pacific Women in over 40 years and convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Participants includes Civil Society Organisatons (CSO’s), Non Government Organisations (NGO’s), networks, academia and stakeholders working on gender equality and human rights which provides a platform at the regional level for all stakeholders to analyses progress against gender equality commitments.

This year, due to COVID-19 and closure of national borders, the conference is beign held vurtually.

The Government of French Polynesia chairs this year’s conference and the Government of Tonga was a representative of the Steering Committee of the Triennial through Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division.

Member countries have identified the following gender priority areas for discussion in the Triennial:

  1. Gender Responsive Climate Justice
  2. Women’s Economic Empowerment; and
  3. Gender Based Violence

The Tonga delegation consisted of the Hon Minister for Health Hon Dr Amelia Tuipolotu, Minister of Trade and Economic Development Hon Tatafu Moeaki and the Minister for Education and Training, Hon Huakavameiliku (Hon Siaosi Sovaleni).

The Senior Officials Meeting held on April 27 – 29 April is led by the Ministry of Internal Affairs CEO Dr Fotu K.V. Fisi’iahi.

Participants with the Hon Prime Minister of Tonga and delegation members at the event yesterday. Photo: MIA Media

The outcome from the Senior Officials Meeting will be submitted to the Ministerial Meeting next Tuesday , May 4.

There are also Side Events which preceded the official Conference Senior Officials Meeting and will continue until April 29, with topics such as:

  • Women’s full and meaningful participation in climate change related decision-making
  • Women of the Blue Pacific: Leading response and recovery in times of crisis
  • From Participation to power: Mapping economic pathways to women’s empowerment
  • Rokoroko: Building flexible and resilient workplaces in Fiji
  • Women in Ocean governance: Promises and Challenges
  • Market Vendor Associations: Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment in Fiji, Solomon Island and Vanuatu
  • Queer movement building and co-creating feminist realities in an era of confronting intersectional justice-transforming a fierce new world
  • Strengthening our ecosystems to empower Pacific Women Entrepreneurs and women in business

The Ministry of Internal Affairs Women’s Affairs Gender Equality Division had conducted sectoral consultations in Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u which shaped the briefing of the delegation to the Conference.

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