28th May, 2014
NGO Women leaders attended a two day forum in Suva on 22-23 April, to discuss the role of women in relation to ‘Rethinking Development, Reshaping the Pacific We Want – Beyond 2015′. The discussions centred on how to progress the re-thinking agenda and influence the Post 2015 development goals after the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.
Jointly organised by the National Council of Women Fiji (NCWF), the Pacific Foundation for the Advancement of Women (PACFAW) and the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), the forum identified (i) definitions of development relevant to the Fiji situation (ii) the critical issues of development affecting women of Fiji and (iii) practical ways of addressing these development issues.
Speaking at the Forum, PIANGO Executive Director Emele Duituturaga pointed to the need for governments and the civil society to be cautious about succumbing to models and concepts that erode Pacific cultural values, traditions. “In the multi-ethnic context of Fiji, we need to be more sensitive and inclusive but at the same time be mindful of the impact of globalisation and consumerisation which is having a negative impact on lifestyle, family values and consequential health problems”, Ms Duituturaga said. Link: Interview on Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat
A range of development issues were key points in the discussions within the context of the rethinking agenda and relevant to the Pacific context. Relevant to women’s issues, development was re-defined at the forum to be about the holistic improvement of the quality of life and social well-being; improvement in human welfare and sustaining this present way of life without compromising the life of the future generations.
Promoting and ensuring quality basic health was concurred at the forum after a range of health issues were considered. With the Pacific being a liquid continent and Fiji susceptible to the challenges of remote locations, health services are definitely more expensive and challenging to deliver and fund.
Rethinking educational development structures and models was also tabled at this Women’s Forum. Gender Justice and the inclusiveness to embrace all nature of educational needs such as those of students with special needs; education that would provide the holistic development of the person and prioritises human and Pacific values, spirituality and quality leadership at all levels and all sectors of society; are among the discussions for educational development.
On gender equality and its progress, the Forum deliberated on initiating innovative ways to empower women in leadership roles whilst being sensitive to the Pacific way of life and how that can translate into women’s political leadership and governance.
The Women’s Forum have also called on CSOs and NGOs to campaign recommendations to the Beyond 2015 Development Goals as our region looks to the Small Island Developing States Meeting in September 2014 in Samoa with United Nation Officials from their New York Headquarters.
Ms Duituturaga said, “Whilst the Forum was convened in acknowledgement that the United Nations recognises gender equality and women’s empowerment has been critical to achieving the MDGs, our focus is now on Pacific governments and the international community establishing Beyond 2015 Goals which reflect development priorities for our Pacific region.