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PRESS STATEMENT January 30, 2002

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has welcomed Fiji’s efforts to become the first Forum Island Country to formally report to a special United Nations committee on advancing the rights of women.

Delegates at the New York meeting recently discussed progress on implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which promotes an international bill of rights for women.

Although the government report and non-government organization reports are national documents, the Forum Secretariat believes their presentation to the UN CEDAW Expert Committee will further highlight the status of women in the region.

The Fiji country report would contribute to the Secretariat’s work to improve the status and conditions of women in the region, such as the promotion of gender equity.

Other Pacific countries are also addressing the subject of gender and women’s rights, which are closely linked to both women’s development and the welfare of children and the family as a whole.

While eight Forum member states have ratified CEDAW, only Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have been able to file reports on action taken to implement CEDAW provisions at the legislative, judicial and administrative levels.

The preparation of the national reports requires significant input and expertise. This has led to greater national and regional efforts to provide the technical support necessary to meet the reporting requirements of the convention.

The report to the UN CEDAW Committee provides each reporting country with expert advice on improving the position of women and recommends ways to make progress on legislation, policies and programs. The Committee members offer a wealth of international experience to their advisory role.

By accepting the convention, states commit to ending all forms of discrimination against women, including:

Forum Members (16): Australia; Cook Islands; Federated States of Micronesia; Fiji; Kiribati; Nauru; New Zealand; Niue; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Republic of Marshall Islands; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu. Observer (1): New Caledonia. 

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