Majuro, Marshall Islands – Today marked the opening of the Micronesian Women’s Conference which is being held at the University of the South Pacific Conference Center in Majuro, the Republic the Marshall Islands (RMI). Delegates from the RMI, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, and the U.S. Territories of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, have come together to collectively identify opportunities and challenges to develop strategic recommendations to increase progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women in the thematic areas of economic empowerment, eliminating violence, health, climate change and leadership.

During today’s proceedings remarks were given by Honorable Ladie Jack Mayor of Majuro Atoll Local Government, Mr Andrew Jacobs, Ambassador to the Marshall Islands and the Pacific, European Union (via video), and Ms. Eliza Woolcock, Second Secretary, Australian Embassy, FSM. The keynote address was delivered by Her Excellency Dr. Hilda C. Heine, President of the RMI and the first female Micronesian President who has overseen initiated the conference from inception and provided leadership to the organizing committed throughout all stages.

President Heine stated in her keynote address: “The Micronesian Women’s Conference is an opportunity for our sub-region to reflect on our journey in progressing gender equality. It is also an opportunity to review our respective commitments and response towards gender equality expressed through leaders commitments to regional and international frameworks for development such as 2030 Global Sustainable Development Agenda, the Pacific Platform for Action for Women, the Pacific Plan, and the 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, to name a few.”

Directly following the welcome remarks the conference began with country updates to lay the ground work for discussion in the five thematic areas to be addressed throughout the week. The country updates by all participating countries provided an overview of achievements as well as challenges.

The first thematic area discussed: Ending Violence Against Women and Girls explored strategies to eliminate violence against women and girls, increase women’s participation in all levels of the justice sector; and improve access to justice for survivors of gender based violence. The thematic expert presenting was Ms Lorna Mosese Rolls, Assistant Representative, UNFPA with panel presentations from Kiribati, Nauru, Palau and RMI.

The second thematic area discussed: Realizing Women’s Economic Empowerment was a reflection on how to realize the economic empowerment of women through access to safe and equitable employment opportunities. The thematic expert presenting was Ms Linda Petersen, Team Leader, Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Support Unit, Fiji with panel presentations from FSM, Palau, and RMI.

The discussions and panels throughout the conference are chaired by Hon. Amenta Matthew, Minister of Culture and Internal Affairs RMI. On behalf of Her Excellency Dr Hilda C. Heine, the Micronesian Women’s Conference Organizing Committee would like to thank all country delegations, regional and international experts and national participants that participated in Day 1 of the Micronesian Women’s Conference. The conference dialogue will commence tomorrow at 8:30am to discuss the Empowerment of Women in Politics and Decision-Making, Addressing Effects of Climate Change on Women, and Improving Women’s Access to Health Services.

The conference is supported by the Government of the Marshall Islands in partnership with Women United Together Marshall Islands with funding support from the European Union, the Government of Australia, and the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Other development partners providing support include the Pacific Community, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United National Population Fund (UNFPA) Asian Development Bank, and the International Organization for Migration.

MEDIA ACCESS: Members of the media are invited to cover this event.

Venue: University of the South Pacific Long Island Campus Conference Center, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands

Date:  Tuesday August 8 – Thursday August 10,

Time:   8:30am-5:30pm

For more information on the conference and the program please contact the Chair of the Micronesian Women’s Conference organizing committee at [email protected] or visit our website www.rmi.micronesianwomensconference.spc.int

Media contact:

Denise de Brum-Reiher, Chair, Media Subcommittee of the MWC Organizing Committee – [email protected] &

Angela Saunders, Vice-Chair, Media Subcommittee of the MWC Organizing Committee– [email protected]

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