Press Release - 8th March 2010 - Women in the Pacific continue to face adverse challenges despite national and regional commitments to addressing gender inequality.

In a statement marking International Women's Day today, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade says: "International Women's Day this year marks a critical time for women's rights and gender equality in the Pacific region. "

The theme for 2010 'Equal rights, Equal opportunities: Progress for all' also marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action an international gender commitment which all our Pacific Island Forum countries are party to.

"The Pacific continues to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of representation of women in national parliaments and three of our Forum Island countries are yet to ratify CEDAW. In addition to this, emerging issues such as climate change and natural disasters have become national and regional priorities where gender issues have not been given the attention they deserve," says Mr Slade.

"The needs and responses of both men and women cannot be ignored when it comes to such critical issues that deal with the lives of people and ultimately the development of our Pacific countries.

"Violence against women remains a pervasive form of human rights violation in our nations, requiring critical momentum in the development of national domestic violence legislation in all our Pacific countries - we congratulate Vanuatu for recently enacting such a legislation and urge our members to start taking positive steps towards legislative measures."

The Forum Secretary General urges "both countries and regional and international organizations to give gender equality concerns the priority it deserves - this includes staffing, resources and the political will it needs to make equal rights and opportunities a reality."