SUVA, Fiji — If alarming rates of violence against women are to be effectively addressed, the status of women needs to be elevated.
UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin emphasized the fundamental, often unacknowledged, contributions of women – to families, communities and economies – during the launch of the Pacific Regional ICPD Review report. The persistence of alarming rates of gender-based violence is one of the critical issues in the region.
The Pacific regional review is the first such report to be issued as part of the global assessment of the implementation of Programme of Action from the 1994 Cairo Conference Population and Development.
Dr. Osotimehin argued that the status of women in our societies needed to be lifted as a fundamental step towards efforts towards addressing sexual and reproductive health and violence against women. He also emphasized the need for continuing investments in the education of the girl-child.
"There are 600 million adolescent girls in the world today. Imagine if they were educated to the point where they were economically viable, where we can make sure they can exercise their rights, where we can make sure they will not be abused ... we would have a peaceful world because women are peacemakers, because women build nations.
"We are going to make sure that women and girls around the world have better access to education, to information and to health services, including reproductive health services."
The Executive Director has been designated as an Eminent Person of the G77, which met last week with Fiji serving as host and chair. The Future Landscape of South-South Cooperation was the focus of the meeting.
The links between family planning and intergenerational cycles of poverty as well as the need to economically empower women, ensuring they played a more significant role in decision-making processes and in actual governance, were major themes discussed by Dr. Ososimehin and several of the Pacific leaders in attendance.
During his three-day visit, Dr. Osotimehin also visited the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and family planning clinic. He also spent time with a group of young people, and encouraged them to make a difference in the world.