Congresswomen Konman and Abello-Alfonso join Women Leaders Meeting in Fiji

SUVA, FIJI. September 01, 2023- The Nation’s first two Congress women led the delegation from the Federated States of Micronesia to the Pacific Island Form (PIF) Women Leaders Meeting held from August 31 thru September 1, 2023 in Suva, Fiji.

Senator Perpetua S. Konman, Chairwoman of the Committee on Health and Social Affairs, served as Head of the FSM Delegation, and Senator Merlynn Abello-Alfonso, Chairwoman of the Special Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Issues served as country delegate.  Assistant Secretary of Social Affairs Stuard Penias also served as a country delegate along with Yolanda Rondon, staff attorney for the FSM Congress.

The meeting agenda priorities were: 1) mainstreaming gender equality and equity in the Pacific region across sectors; 2) review and endorsement of the revitalized PLGED (Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration); and 3) discussion of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent (2050 Strategy) working draft.

Senator Konman and Senator Abello-Alfonso successfully advocated in the meeting outcomes document for the inclusion of accountability frameworks: a) across all thematic pillars of the 2050 Strategy and gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) analysis integration across Pacific regional entities.

Senator Konman’s intervention at the PIF Women Leaders Meeting highlighted the need for the region to clearly commit to take concrete efforts to address human trafficking and domestic violence by specifically identifying these issues in the revitalized PLGED. The intervention also called for the inclusion of measurable gender data indicators in the 2050 Strategy implementation and monitoring plan, and gender parity in the regional group charged with implementation.

Senator Abello-Alfonso’s interventions at the PIF Women Leaders Meeting emphasized the recognition of the intersectionality of climate change as a regional security issue that cannot operate in a silo and must be a specified priority under the 2050 Strategy thematic pillar of “peace and security.” The intervention also stressed the importance of ensuring that the PIF Gender Equality Messaging Guide developed to aid in strategic advocacy and awareness must be adaptable to permit effective utilization at the community level, particularly important for the FSM with a rich diversity in languages, culture and customs.  

The PIF Women Leaders Meeting adopted outcomes will inform the Pacific Island Forum annual minister meeting in November 2023 and help shape the region’s future. The role of women leaders in the PIF is fundamental to realize the promise of the 2050 Strategy and the revitalized PLGED through substantive action. Culture and customs should not be a barrier to achieving gender equality and equity.

Assistant Secretary Penias contribution to the delegation was important to understanding the historical context of the PLGED, GESI, and areas that require more progress on gender equality and equity as a region. Congress Staff Attorney Yolanda Rondon served as a member of the drafting committee that produced the final adopted outcomes. Acting Ambassador to Fiji Waguk Finkol, First Secretary Rophino Roby to the FSM Embassy in Suva assistance and support to the FSM delegation were invaluable.

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