With the Pacific region having one of the lowest numbers of women in parliament and local government the scheduled elections in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga is very significant for a network dedicated to increasing women's participation in political and government structures.
Without women's political engagement localization or the development of national strategies to implement the Pacific Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security will not take place in an accountable manner.
Viewing development through a peace and human security lens is one way to bring about a shift from reaction to prevention and can also enable a tangible partnership approach that ensures women's efforts and leadership are recognised and enhanced.
As our monthly reports highlight, women's civil society has been using many innovative ways to responds to the gaps in advancing gender equality commitments in our region. Through our Election TOK series, for example, women's experiences as voters and candidates in national and local government elections responds to the gaps in coverage by public media.
The human security priorities communicated through our “1325” network in Fiji provides the evidence for action.
With our membership of the Pacific Islands Forum Reference Group on Women, Peace and Security, the board of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) as well as the UN High Level Expert Advisory Group for the Global Study on the 15-year implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) FemLINKPACIFIC is looking forward to sharing local experiences to advance the women, peace and security agenda.
Updates from Bougainville highlighted, the Autonomous Bougainville Government had recently passed a bill that will guide and control any mining company that wishes to extract gold in Bougainville. However there are still concerns from within the community and in particular women who continue to feel marginalised as women have been excluded from decision making processes.
In Tonga, our partners with the Talitha Project Vannessa Heleta, spoke to women who are planning to contest the elections in November. Women candidates indicated that standing for elections meant breaking norms of society where women are to be seen only handling domestic related duties and not seen or heard within decision making processes.
There can be no development without disarmament and the full and equal participation of women. We call on the international community to prioritize and resource nationally-owned processes and institutions for development including national implementation mechanisms such as National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security which can be possible by redirecting military spending toward equitable social development and developing gender equality-strengthening macroeconomic policies and debt workout mechanisms.