Pacific and Australian MPs working together to improve women’s leadership in the region
14 February, 2013
Women parliamentarians and candidates from across the Pacific joined Australian female MPs in Sydney on 9 and 10 February to attend a Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships forum. Photo: Fiona Way. View a larger version
Hon. Niki Rattle, Speaker of Cook Islands Parliament. Photo: Fiona Way
Women parliamentarians and candidates from across the Pacific joined Australian female MPs in Sydney on 9 and 10 February to attend a Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships forum.
Australian MPs from all political parties at Federal and State level were joined by women from Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga.
The forum is part of a new five-year project between AusAID and the Parliament of Australia’s International Community Relations Office to implement the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Program—the first activity to be implemented under AusAID’s $320 million, 10-year Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative.
The forum gave the MPs an opportunity to begin planning activities and outcomes for the project, including mentoring and on-the-job training for Pacific women MPs in community engagement and parliamentary skills. MPs were also able to have their say on some of the key focus areas of the Pacific Development initiative.
Gender inequality remains a significant development challenge for many countries in the world—including those in the Pacific. Women in the Pacific are under-represented in many leadership and decision-making settings. They hold just 4 per cent of the region’s parliamentary seats, compared to nearly 25 per cent in Australia. The Inter-Parliamentary Union [external website] reports that globally women represent 18 per cent of nationally elected MPs.
Pacific nations represent three of the four countries in the world with no women parliamentarians. Such low levels of women’s leadership in the Pacific is a major barrier to social and economic development in the region.
To try and address these challenges, the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Program will help to build the capacity of Pacific women members of parliament and their staff. It will improve understanding of the factors that contribute to Pacific women’s success in achieving political office and the support they require once they are elected.
The program will include activities such as exchange programs, women’s empowerment forums, parliamentary skills scholarships, research support, support to establish gender-sensitive parliaments and support for young female leaders.
The Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Program will also support the implementation of the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration. This declaration commits leaders to a set of policy actions to lift the status the status of women in the Pacific and empower them to be active participants in economic, political and social life.
One of the commitments under the declaration includes adopting measures to accelerate women’s full and equal participation in governance reform at all levels and women’s leadership in all decision making.
Last Reviewed: 14 February, 2013