THERE is a strong call this week for recognition that gender equality is the foundation of sustainable development.
UN Women and their partners across the Pacific say high rates of violence against women and girls, low political participation and barriers to economic empowerment meant Pacific small island states were not benefiting from women's full potential.
In a statement on the eve of the Pacific preparatory meeting for the Small Island Developing States, 2014 meeting in Samoa, Elzira Sagynbaeva, the UN Women Fiji multi-country office representative, said the third international conference on SIDS provided an opportunity to address gender equality as a development issue.
It provides the opportunity for Pacific Island states to reinstate their commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment.
"This is especially timely in light of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Declaration on Gender Equality, as well as progress in Samoa and Vanuatu regarding appropriate measures to promote women's political participation and women in Fiji participating in climate change adaptation by promoting solar energy," she said.
The three day meeting at Radisson Blu, Nadi will consider priority issues for small island developing states for the post 2015 goals, and measure progress and gaps in the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation.
This is the second of three regional meetings to provide the regional inputs for the Conference, in Apia, from September 1-4 2014.
The meeting is hosted by Fiji and jointly organised with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in close collaboration with the UN Development Program.