The indigenous struggle for liberation in West Papua on the western half of the island of New Guinea in the south-west Pacific, with the loss of thousands of lives, is far from ending. But, despite political uncertainties, a united coalition of pro-independence leaders has reignited hope of freedom by galvanising the support of a Pacific Islands inter-governmental organisation.
As the U.S. struggles with a weeks-long government shutdown which has threatened the country’s economic recovery and forced President Barack Obama to cancel a series of high-stakes visits to Asia, China has instead taken the centre-stage, boosting ties with Asian neighbours and promising multi-billion trade and investment deals.
Women face greater odds in achieving equal political representation in the Pacific Islands than in any other region of the world, holding just 3 percent of seats in national parliaments, compared to 20 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and 18.5 percent in South East Asia.
The 43rd Pacific Islands Forum was held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, from 28 to 30 August 2012 involved leaders from the 16 member Pacific nations including Australia and New Zealand. This year's theme: “Large Ocean Island States – the Pacific Challenge” with major topics including climate change, trade and fishing.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with more than 500 officials from nearly 60 countries including China, and European Union attended as observers and participated in other meetings in the Cook Islands, some 3000 km northeast of New Zealand.
Leaders of 15 Pacific Island nations have pledged to remove barriers to women’s economic empowerment, end violence against women and pave the way for their increased political representation, at the conclusion of the 43rd
Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, last week. The meeting was also attended by the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet.