[Nadi, Fiji – June 15] There are many ways in which women can be empowered to promote a culture of peace and non-violence in the Pacific, just as there are many ways in which culture has been used as an excuse to limit the rights of girls and women.
At a consultation on Women’s Empowerment for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence in the Pacific that ended in Nadi today, participants from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu shared examples of how culture and women’s empowerment interacted at their country level.
The consultation ended with an agreement on a range of actions at local, 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.
These are included in a draft statement which identified the importance of building positive cultural models using a range of key actors including women leaders, faith based leaders, and traditional leaders as well as political leaders and parties.
The draft statement also emphasized education as a means of promoting a culture of peace and non-violence. The consultation noted that education curriculum could place a stronger emphasis on values, gender equality and building positive cultural models.
The follow up actions identified through the draft statement include public awareness on the role of women, including grass roots women, in bringing peace to conflict afflicted communities; targeting young people as the next generation of leaders, as well as using arts, cultural and sports events to break down gender stereotypes. The draft statement also included follow up actions relating to economic empowerment, access to justice and service delivery.
The draft statement will be finalized in a month’s time and will be used to advocate for change at the local, national and regional levels.
The consultation was jointly organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women.