[Nadi, Fiji – June 13] Women in the Pacific have shown over and over again that it is they who foster peace in a myriad of recognised and unrecognised ways. Women’s roles in bringing lasting peace and recognition in strife-torn societies need to be given a greater recognition.
These comments were made by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative for Fiji, Knut Ostby when he delivered opening remarks at a regional consultation on women’s empowerment for a culture of peace and non-violence in the Pacific.
“Global efforts towards peace and reconciliation can only succeed with a collective approach built on trust, dialogue, and collaboration. We need to recognize the fact that women have a major role to play in promoting the culture of peace, particularly in strife-torn societies, and in bringing about lasting peace and reconciliation. Bringing women to the forefront of this culture of peace will help create long-term solutions,” said Mr Ostby.
He said a culture of peace generates a mindset that is a prerequisite for the transition from force to reason, from conflict and violence to dialogue and peace.
“Women in the Pacific have proved again and again that it is often they who foster the culture of peace in a myriad of recognized and unrecognized ways. The Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum recognized the importance of women’s equality in their 2012 Declaration on Gender Equality and called for ‘new determination and invigorated commitment to efforts to lift the status of women in the Pacific and empower them to be active participants in economic, political and social life’.”
The consultation on Women’s Empowerment for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence in the Pacific is designed to promote and strengthen a culture of peace at the country and regional level in the Pacific. It is jointly organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women.
Dr. Sue Vize, the Officer-in-Charge of the UNESCO Office for the Pacific States said the consultation was designed to address issues surrounding culture and gender equality by creating a dialogue and looking for solutions that have the support of the community.
“UNESCO promotes intercultural dialogue for a culture of peace. Essentially, this involves examining different views and creating consensus for addressing issues in a positive way, for example ways in which cultural models can support and strengthen achievement of gender equality,” she said.
The consultation is attended by a cross section of development professionals and community representatives drawn from governments, national and regional women’s organizations, academic institutions and development partners. Delegates at the meeting are from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The event will end on June 15 with the expected outcome being a better understanding and agreement on a range of actions at national and regional level that could be adopted to promote increased dialogue amongst leaders and policy makers on the contribution culture and heritage can make to addressing issues of gender inequality and reducing gender based violence.