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Apia Statement sets out priorities on women’s rights

Graphic: Participants at the Pacific Roundtable take part in activities

NHRIs, governments and civil society from the Pacific have pledged to bolster their efforts to promote gender equality and counter discrimination.

Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

National human rights institutions (NHRIs), governments and civil society from across the Pacific have pledged to bolster their efforts to address the human rights challenges facing women and girls in their respective countries.

The APF Pacific Roundtable brought together 26 representatives from the NHRIs of Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tuvalu, as well as from government and civil society in the Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Samoa.

Representatives from OHCHR, UN Women, the Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also attended the two-day meeting, held in Apia, Samoa, from 4-5 September 2018.


Deep-rooted attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices contribute to women and girls being discriminated against in areas such as education, health and the justice system.

Ombudsman of Samoa Logo Maiava Iulai Toma, Ombudsman of Samoa

During a series of frank discussions, participants identified a wide range of challenges that leave women and girls in the Pacific vulnerable to violence and harassment, as well as battling entrenched discrimination.

The Apia Statement, adopted at the end of the roundtable, identified a series of priority areas where NHRIs, government and civil society could partner and press for change:

  • Promoting greater participation in politics and decision-making, including women in leadership
  • Fostering constitutional, legislative and policy frameworks that promote and protect the rights of women and girls, implemented by government
  • Ensuring access to appropriate and quality services, such as health, social welfare, finance, education and the justice system
  • Building community understanding of the relationship between human rights principles and practices and cultural values and norms
  • Supporting economic empowerment of women and girls, including gender discrimination in employment
  • Ending gender-based violence

Participants also noted that climate change – and its impact on food and water security, land degradation and housing – can disproportionally affect women and girls and must be addressed with gender considerations in mind.


Graphic: Participants at the Pacific Roundtable take part in discussions


Fasoah Aishath, APF Human Rights Projects and Planning Manager, said that Pacific Island nations can experience very specific challenges in relation to advancing the rights of women and girls.

"Different cultural contexts and small populations, which are both dispersed and diverse, mean it is vital that solutions are developed specific to each country," she said.

"A key goal of this roundtable was to share ideas, learn from each other's experiences, highlight the unique role that NHRIs can play and build vibrant partnerships that will lead to action for gender equality in the Pacific.

The APF Pacific Roundtable was hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa and funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Date: 18 September 2018


Image credits

  1. Participants at the Pacific Roundtable take part in activities - APF/Faso Aishath
  2. Participants at the Pacific Roundtable take part in discussions - APF/Faso Aishath