Empowering women through economic development

Apia, 1 September 2014
The Minister of Education, Honourable Saili Patea joined an evening function by the UN Women and the Australian Government on Empowering Women: Stories from the Pacific Market Places at the Atherton Residence in Siusega. The meeting celebrated and shared some success stories and experiences of how the UN Women's  programme  has enhanced women’s economic empowerment.

The UN Women’s Director strongly believes that enhancing women’s empowerment is strategic for long-term equity, growth and sustainability. Research shows that improving the economic status of women leads to increased economic activity in communities. With that, it brings positive effects for families, communities and whole nations.  
Women representatives from Papua New Guinea and Fiji shared their success and very inspiring stories of how the UN Women have come into their lives. This has helped empower them to do well in the marketplace. It also supported the women market vendor’s rights and helped them to have a voice and contributed to expanding economic opportunities for them.
Other benefits come from the socio-economic security of market vendors, where women have received appropriate training and services. Focussing on business and leadership skills has enabled them to increase productivity and product development. For example product diversification, environmentally sustainable practices, disaster-resilient crops, and adding value to get more revenue from the sales of their products.

The moving story from one woman from Fiji was inspiring, as she had been selling products in the marketplace for more than 40 years. The resulting funds had put her children into education. 

Accessing financial and social services, such as saving accounts and mobile banking is a breakthrough for these women: this type of support was not accessible to women in the past. Women's security in the marketplace has also improved. The Woman Sergeant from PNG illustrated this by sharing some of the amazing things she has done - to protect the PNG women and children, and making the marketplace safe. 
Our Education Minister was greatly inspired by these success stories shared; and grateful that the UN Women had contributed positively. The struggle that some of the these women have gone through are not yet experienced in Tokelau. However, other areas of interests that the Minister is keen to explore are, how UN Women support empowerment through women-in-leadership-training, Good governance can also improve the participation of women in decision-making. This could lead to improving the welfare and quality of life of women in Tokelau also.