Advancing gender equality in the Pacific


Advancing gender equality in the Pacific
Photo: UN Women/Caitlin Clifford

International Women's Day (IWD) 2024 marks a pivotal moment as the world comes together under the theme "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress." In the spirit of this global call to action, three UN Resident Coordinators working across the Pacific share their perspectives on the paramount importance of investing in women to expedite positive change.

Advancing gender equality in the Pacific
Dirk Wagener. Photo: Courtesy of UN RCO Fiji MCO.

Mr. Dirk Wagener, UN Resident Coordinator to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu explains, "The UN remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting gender equality and women's rights, acknowledging that these are indispensable pillars for sustainable development and that without their full realization, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals is impossible.” 

“In the Pacific, it has been commendable to see governments, civil society, and increasingly, the private sector and faith-based communities, ramping up efforts to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment,” added Mr. Wagener. 

Themba Kalua.
Themba Kalua. Photo: Courtesy of UN DCO

Echoing this sentiment, Mr. Themba Kalua, UN Resident Coordinator to Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau, emphasizes, "Investing in women is a strategic imperative. Their strength, potential, and determination are valuable assets that can drive positive change and improve the quality of life for all in our countries. When women succeed, entire countries benefit.”

Mr. Kalua added, “There is a pressing need to gather and analyze gender-disaggregated data to gain deeper insights into the specific challenges and opportunities facing women in various contexts. This information will enable us to design more targeted and effective interventions, ultimately advancing gender equality and women's empowerment.

Jaap van Hierden.
Jaap van Hierden. Photo: Courtesy of UN

Mr. Jaap van Hierden, UN Resident Coordinator for Micronesia (Palau, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Marshall Islands, Nauru & Kiribati), explains, “The promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment is crucial to the UN, and as its Resident Coordinator for Micronesia, it is my responsibility to ensure that these priorities are mainstreamed in our work and in our communications.”

“One specific area in which we try to make a positive difference is through digital transformation. (…) The UN Joint Programme on Digitalization in Micronesia helps girls and women to access and leverage such technology, to break down barriers and to create economic opportunities. It gives them the tools to develop their own businesses and access markets well beyond their national borders,” added van Hierden. 

UN Resident Coordinators also stressed that investing in women requires dismantling barriers to their empowerment, including unequal access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. It involves creating policies that promote gender equality and challenging cultural norms that perpetuate discrimination. The Resident Coordinators also emphasized the need for collaborative partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector to drive impactful change.

Message by Jaap van Hierden UN RC for Micronesia on IWD 2024
Message by RC Dirk Wagener on IWD 2024