NOT one single country in the world has achieved gender equality says Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa.
Vuniwaqa says that violence against women and girls remains a regional epidemic in the Pacific, where women and girls continue to experience multiple forms of violence at home, at work and in public spaces.
“It is important to recognise that violence against women and girls is an extreme manifestation of gender inequality in a society and systemic gender-based discrimination,” Vuniwaqa says.
“Girls in the Pacific are still constrained by social norms including harmful practices like child marriage, deeply rooted gender roles, a widespread burden of unpaid care and domestic work, unequal power and voice and outright discrimination.
“They still have limited or zero access to friendly Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) information and services to assist them to make responsible choices to protect and safeguard their health and bodies, with particular reference to unplanned and early pregnancies.”
Vuniwaqa adds that across the Pacific, men outnumber women in paid and formal employment while women make up most of the population engaging in vulnerable and informal employment. “Women work more, earn less and have fewer choices about their livelihoods and futures with less access to resources and information,” she says.
“In our region, natural disasters are on the rise, both in frequency and ferocity. Climate crisis is indeed inherently a justice issue—those who have contributed least to its causes suffer to date most from its effects – including Pacific women and girls.”