UN Women - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet to attend high level meeting of Pacific Leaders in Cook Islands

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Date: 24 August 2012

Michelle Bachelet, UN Women's Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, will attend the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum Meeting, to be held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands from 28 to 30 of August 2012. She will attend the Forum on behalf of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the invitation of the Forum host, the Government of the Cooks Islands.

This will be Ms Bachelet's first visit to the Pacific region since her appointment as the Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director in 2010.

“In the Pacific region, the work on the ground in terms of women, peace and security, political and economic empowerment of women, and ending violence against women have been significant, she said. “Yet much more needs to be done, and I am looking forward to discussions and collaborations with leaders of the Pacific region and to attending the Pacific Islands Forum.

Ms. Bachelet's visit comes against the backdrop of intensifying efforts by the UN to address cross-cutting development issues such gender equality, governance, economic empowerment, and peace and security. The Pacific region, excluding Australia and New Zealand, continues to have the lowest rate in the world of women in parliament, at only 3.5 per cent compared to 20 per cent globally.

Work to economically empower women in the region faces persistent challenges, with gender wage gaps, low rates of women's employment in the formal economy, and few women in senior management positions, in the public or private sectors, while many women continue to work in informal, inadequate and unprotected settings. Violence against women is widespread, with estimates of two in three Pacific women having experienced physical or sexual violence from their intimate partner during their lifetime.

The Executive Director's participation at the Pacific Islands Forum will give her an opportunity to advocate around key socio-economic issues including gender equality, on behalf of the UN. She will make a statement at the plenary session of the Pacific Islands Forum on 29 August, along with other Observers, who have been invited. During the Forum she will meet with various heads of state and government leaders from the Pacific Region, as well as UN System officials.

She will participate at a side event on gender following the plenary session, which will focus on fully engaging women in sustainable development.

To learn more about UN Women's work in the Pacific Region, read UN Women's story on health and safety for women in Pacific Markets, or watch its recent video from Papua New Guinea's Port Moresby on the work of its Safe Cities global programme to make urban spaces safer for women and girls.