17th July, 2014
The Australian Government considers women’s economic empowerment, ending violence against women and girls, and enhancing women’s leadership opportunities in the Pacific a foreign policy priority.
As part of our efforts, I am delighted to announce Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja, will host a dialogue for Pacific women political leaders and policy makers in the Pacific in Tonga on 18 July 2014.
The dialogue brings together more than 30 Pacific women political leaders and senior women in government to discuss strategies to overcome barriers to women’s leadership, and to work together to improve the lives of women in the Pacific.
Women in the Pacific are under-represented in their Parliaments, comprising about five per cent of parliamentarians compared to the global average of 21.7 per cent.
Improving leadership and decision-making opportunities for women in the region is essential to reducing poverty and promoting economic growth and democracy. All people prosper when women are equal participants in society, including in politics and in the economy.
Ms Stott Despoja will be joined by a bipartisan Commonwealth-State delegation, including three senior members of the Abbott Government – Dr Sharman Stone, Nola Marino and Jane Prentice, who have collectively served almost 30 years in the Australian Parliament. I believe that participants in the dialogue will benefit from their experience and advice.
Following the dialogue, more than 30 women parliamentarians from across the Pacific and Australia will meet for the second Pacific Women Parliamentarian Partnerships forum. The forum will focus on building women parliamentarians’ skills in community consultation and working to influence policy changes that benefit women.
Both the dialogue and the forum are supported through Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, a 10-year $320 million Australian Government initiative to improve the political and economic opportunities for Pacific women across 14 Pacific countries.