Women’s empowerment

Women’s issues are interlinked with wider human rights issues. The absence of women in decision-making and leadership is often a result of inherently biased structures and systems. Discriminatory laws, processes and practices result in greater barriers for women to access educational and economic opportunities as well as basic healthcare.

Consequently, women are less exposed to successive pathways needed to become effective leaders in government and in the business sector.

Occupational segregation as well as violence and intimidation toward women and girls stems from these structured power inequalities, creating attitudes which continue to disadvantage women and girls.

These entrenched social norms exist worldwide.

Achieving equality depends on both structural change and implementing fairer laws; as well as social and behavioural change.

Women’s empowerment in the Pacific

There are 2.4 million people living in Pacific Island Countries and Territories sub-region, spread out across the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world. Within these diverse countries, there is a growing recognition that empowering women delivers stronger economies because it gears communities toward productivity and growth – and a growing understanding that communities are more resilient with the full and equal participation of women. We are seeing encouraging progress towards closing the gender equality gap at regional, national and community levels.

Notable achievements include the  increased numbers of girls enrolled in schools and graduating, more women taking up senior professional roles, and new legislation to protect women and girls from domestic violence.

While there have been significant wins, we want to continue this positive trajectory to ensure that opportunities are inclusive for all women and girls.

The Pacific Region is still home to the only three countries in the world that do not have any women represented in Parliament (at 2019) and has the lowest global percentages of women in leadership roles. Concerningly, the highest rates of violence are recorded in the Pacific at twice the global average despite women being more protected by domestic violence laws passed in 10 Pacific States between 2008 and 2014.

Additionally, women struggle with personal economic security and are more likely to be in low wage or unpaid family employment. Women and children are further disproportionately impacted during times of crises and disasters – women and children are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster than men.

See our four Focus Areas that underpin women’s empowerment and gender equality initiatives.