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Consultation is taking place all over the Pacific to contribute to the development of the 2 year Strategy for the newly formed body of the United Nations, UN Women, which aims to advance gender equality.

The consultation took place at the Council of Churches in Tonga, with Government Ministries, Members of Civil Society and Donor Organizations meeting to advise on the best way for UN Women to work to improve the quality of life for women in Tonga.

The consultation was co-ordinated by Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, the Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre “It was exciting to bring together all those who work tirelessly to promote gender equality in Tonga. We hope the UN Women will enable us to work together in order to improve the quality of life for women and girls all over the Kingdom”.

Formerly known as UNIFEM, UN Women has the following themes:

1)      Expand women’s voice, leadership and participation

2)      End Violence Against Women

3)      Strengthen implementation of women’s peace and security agenda

4)      Enhance women’s economic empowerment

5)      Make gender equality priorities central to national, local and sectorial planning, budgeting and expenses

Attendees at the UN Women consultation discussed the need for the Pacific to have their own representatives in the UN, instead of relying on representation from Asia, in which women face a different set of challenges.

“Often the Pacific is lumped in to the broad Asia Pacific region. The Pacific has a specific set of needs, and we need to work together in order to have representation so that the Pacific can have a voice” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

Attendees also called for renewed commitment to the National Gender Policy and the need for gender equality to be included in Tonga’s National Strategic Plan.