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, says Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa.
Vuniwaqa, while opening the Pacific Island Countries Regional Preparatory Meeting on the Beijing +25 Review this morning, says that as individual nations, all are small but collectively as a group their united voice can influence regional and international bodies to consider issues that are unique to people.
“Let’s use these three days to find that song – a song that we can all identify with, a song that we will sing together loudly and clearly when we talk about gender equality nationally, regionally and internationally ,” Vuniwaqa says.
“Nearly 25 years ago, some 30 thousand women and men from nearly 200 countries arrived in Beijing, China for the Fourth World Conference on Women, determined to recognize the rights of women and girls as human rights. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: for the most comprehensive policy agenda for the empowerment of women.”
Vuniwaqa adds that in the years following, women and girls pressed these dreams and agenda forward, leading local, regional and global movements on issues ranging from economic empowerment to ending violence against women and girls, from sexual and reproductive health rights to climate justice and equal pay.
“And – no doubt that we are shaking the pillars of patriarchy,” she says.
“On that note, let’s cheer and celebrate! We celebrate and cheer for women. We celebrate the relentless and tireless work of all women and girls in the Pacific, in different groups and movements and settings – rural and urban, who transformed and still are transforming our nations, our region and the world.”