[Press-releases] Press Release: "Don't be fooled - women's progress still slow, says new SPC women's advocate"
RositaH at spc.int
Tue Jul 4 01:32:14 EDT 2006
PRESS RELEASE rh123
Don't be fooled - women's progress still slow, says new SPC women's advocate
Tuesday 4 July, 2006, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Headquarters, Nouméa - Women are rising to positions of influence throughout the Pacific - but that doesn't mean gender equality has been achieved, says the new Women's Advocacy and Communication Officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
Julie Middleton, 36, a former New Zealand Herald journalist, said the achievements of women such as New Caledonian president Marie-Noelle Themereau, vice-president Dewe Gorode, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Tonga's Alisi Taumoepeau, the kingdom's first female Cabinet minister, could create the mistaken impression that equality had been achieved.
"The attention paid to the few women in power can obscure the fact that gross inequalities between men and women still exist in the Pacific," she said. "People see women in influential positions and think gains have been made.
''But frequently, we see that there are few or no female successors coming up behind them, and that overall, women's representation in decision-making roles is low.''
Excluding Australia and New Zealand, women number just 10.9 per cent of Pacific Parliamentarians.* ''This tells us that much work remains to be done to ensure that women are able to take part in decision-making on behalf of their communities.''
Ms Middleton's role is to spread the word about PWB's work for women and develop related media training initiatives.
At the New Zealand Herald she was an award-winning senior writer, principally in human rights issues, and a departmental editor. She has written for publications as diverse as The Guardian (UK), The New Zealand Listener, and the Sunday-Star-Times.
Ms Middleton, who is of English, Irish and Maori (Tainui) descent, is also passionate about French language. "Working for SPC and living in New Caledonia combines two of my passions - speaking French on a daily basis in this beautiful country, and working to make the region a fairer place for my Pacific sisters."
* The figure comes from research by the Pacific Institute for Advanced Studies in Democratic Government, part of the University of the South Pacific. See www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=piasdg
Note to media:
Julie Middleton can be contacted at SPC on 26 01 57. Email: JulieM at spc.int.
She can provide Pacific-wide contacts for journalists seeking information about women's issues and development organisations.
About the Pacific Women's Bureau: www.spc.int/women
Created in 1982, the PWB works with Pacific Island countries and territories to promote gender equality so that Pacific women enjoy the same opportunities as men.
Its principal staff is:
Linda Petersen, Women's Development Adviser, who works closely with regional organisations, donors and other development partners on initiatives and strategic planning
Rolande Trolue, Women's Development Officer, who plan and actions training and meeting programmes, with a special focus on French-speaking countries.
Evelyne Kaspan, Programme Assistant
Julie Middleton, Women's Advocacy and Communication Officer.
About the Secretariat of the Pacific Community: www.spc.int <http://www.spc.int/>
SPC is a non-political, technical assistance and research body which works with its 22 member countries on Pacific development.
Formed in 1947 as the South Pacific Commission, SPC offers programmes in diverse areas, among them public health, fisheries research, demography and statistics, women, culture and youth, agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry and quarantine.
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