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DPA Head of Department Nicole Haley was recently honoured with one of only two international keynote addresses at the 8th National Women’s Conference of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) held in Pohnpei from 27 August to 31 August. Dame Carol Kidu of Papua New Guinea delivered the other international keynote. Both Nicole and Dame Carol spoke on means of increasing women’s participation and success in elections. DPA members Myjolynne Kim (Mymy) and Zag Puas from FSM and Paul D’Arcy were also invited to speak at the conference.
The conference attracted 250 to 300 women per day from across Micronesia for its 5-day duration to address a comprehensive list of topics around the conference theme of “Working Together for Progress”. The Conference Goal was to continue to build and support social development that is inclusive for women across FSM. The conference sought to provide a platform where women from the four states of FSM (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae) could come together and engage in discussions on matters affecting them. Speakers represented the full age spectrum of the population and were drawn from all ranks of the civil service, the private sector, development banks and community groups. Robust and knowledgeable questions and comments ended each session.
The conference had five primary objectives, all of which were achieved according to the organizers and conference participants. Those objectives were:
- To have a forum where FSM national and state level stakeholders can harmonize their understanding and status of women’s issues in relation to different policy frameworks at the national, regional and international level and to unify the collective efforts of the country’s response to resolving women’s issues.
- Increased awareness and understanding of issues affecting women in the FSM.
- A better understanding of national and state level policy frameworks that are guiding the governments’ work to advance the status of women of FSM.
- Priorities of the states identified to progress women’s status and linking them to available technical assistance and funding support.
- Improved coordination of the FSM national and states’ government actions to respond to regional and international commitments to advance the equitable development for women in FSM.
DPA staff have been invited back to hold workshops on promoting greater female participation and success in elections due to take place next year. Nicole and Mymy have accepted an invitation from the conference organiser, Ms Norleen Oliver, to help her co-edit a selection of the conference papers into a book. Mymy noted that FSM Women acknowledge that as women, they have to work much harder in comparison to their male counterparts. Despite the wide gender equality gap, FSM women continue to make significant achievements and produce important work. FSM women recognize the urgent need for women’s representation and involvement in high level decision-making and politics to improve development on all levels. They also recognize that political leadership is their responsibility and can no longer shy away from it but they need to work in partnership with everyone including the men. FSM needs to recognize and offer opportunities that will engage, empower, and advance women. Zag, who is also involved with food security and youth and climate change projects in FSM, mentioned that Pohnpei will also play host to an international forum on Youth and Climate Change in 2018. DPA looks forward to developing its relationship with FSM, building upon its record of success elsewhere in the Pacific.