UN Women Executive Director to Attend Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting

Date: Friday, August 24, 2012

The Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet will attend on behalf of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon , the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum Meeting, to be held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands from the 28th to the 30th of August 2012.

The United Nations is attending at the invitation of the host Government of the Cooks Islands.

This will be Ms Bachelet’s first visit to the Pacific region and since her appointment as the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women in 2010.

“In the Pacific region, the work on the ground in terms of women, peace and security, political and economic empowerment of women, and ending violence against women have been significant, Yet much more needs to be done, and I am looking forward to discussions and collaborations with leaders of the Pacific region and to attending the Pacific Islands Forum,” said Michelle Bachelet.

Ms. Bachelet’s visit comes against the backdrop of intensifying of efforts by the UN to address cross-cutting development issues such gender equality, governance, economic empowerment, and peace and security. The Pacific region, excluding Australia and New Zealand, continues to have the lowest rate in the world of women in parliament, only 3.5 per cent compared to 20 per cent globally. Economic empowerment of women faces persistent challenges, with gender wage gaps, low rates of women’s employment in the formal economy, and few women in senior management positions, in the public or private sectors. Violence against women is widespread, with estimates of two in three Pacific women having experienced physical or sexual violence from their initimate partner during their lifetime.

Ms. Bachelet’s participation at the Pacific Islands Forum will give her an opportunity to advocate around key socio-economic issues including gender equality, on behalf of the UN. Ms. Bachelet will make a statement at the plenary session of the Pacific Islands Forum on 29th August, along with other Observers, who have been invited. During the Forum she will meet with various heads of state and government leaders from the Pacific Region, as well as UN System officials.

She will participate at a Gender Side Event following the plenary session, which will focus on addressing issues of Sustainable Development through the full engagement of women.

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