Federated States of Micronesia Women's Conference

December 5, 2023


I am Kevin Petrini, Country Manager and Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP in the North Pacific.

It is a pleasure to join you today, and to have the opportunity to share more about the transformative work that the United Nations Development Programme is undertaking across the Pacific, and around the world, to further gender equality and promote the empowerment of all women and girls.

This event coming at an important time as we currently find ourselves amid 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, the theme this year reminding us that there is ‘No Excuse’ for gender-based violence.

UNDP operates on the notion of leaving no one behind, and despite efforts globally to push for gender equality, the statistics at present show that despite there having been many positive steps forward, we still have a long way to go if we truly want to achieve sustainable development that works to improve the lives of those most-marginalized in our societies.

UNDP, and the wider UN system, is guided in our work by the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs as we like to call them. In a recent report from UNDP looking at human development in the region, our efforts to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030 will not happen. In fact, our current direction and speed of travel will not see us realize the SDGs until 2064.

In every country across the Pacific, pervasive gender inequality remains a barrier to progress, justice and social stability. It also hinders the achievement of development goals. We recognize that women’s empowerment and gender equality are cross-cutting issues that lie at the heart of human development.

So what are UNDP doing in the Pacific, to accelerate efforts to achieve  sustainable development for all?

Firstly, it must be noted that UNDP remains committed to be at the forefront of efforts to promote the empowerment of women and girls through Pacific programmes.

We also support regional and national efforts to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment.

UNDP Pacific are committed to strengthening the capacity of our national partners across the region, and particularly here in the North Pacific, to adopt approaches that advance women’s rights and take full account of the many ways women contribute to development. We strive to ensure that women have increased economic control, strengthened political voice and enhanced legal rights.

We are also working to remove structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment, including unpaid work. Our work here focuses on approaches that transform legal, policy and social norms to create a sustainable impact on women’s economic empowerment. This requires investing more in gender-responsive infrastructure, implementing policies that support equal redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work, equal access to assets and land and other such approaches.

UNDP also works to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. We works closely with governments and national and local institutions to address gender-based violence, one of the major impediments to both gender equality and sustainable development. In particular, UNDP supports efforts to ensure justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence by improving the skills and knowledge of police officers, judges, prosecutors, and court administrators.

UNDP also promotes the strengthening of women’s participation and leadership in all forms of decision-making. Our work focuses on increasing women’s participation and leadership in a broad range of institutions, including parliaments, political parties, public administration, the judiciary and the private sector. We also work to address structural barriers to women’s leadership through support of gender equality laws and quotas.

In the Federated States of Micronesia, the UNDP Strengthening Gender Machinery project is a beacon of empowerment, working hand-in-hand with the National Government through the Department of Health and Social Affairs to elevate women and girls through gender-related policy advocacy, income generation initiatives, and access to essential small-scale infrastructures.

The project stands shoulder to shoulder with traditional and community leaders in key sectors, fostering income-generating opportunities and livelihoods development in the states of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap. At its core, the project is dedicated to expanding women and girls' access to economic empowerment activities and ensuring their control over clean water and sanitation services.

We eagerly anticipate collaborating with key stakeholders and development partners to synergize and strengthen our collective efforts in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment at the community, state, and national levels of the FSM.

Killisou Chapur
Kulo Mulalap

Thank you for your time, and I wish you the best of luck for the remainder of this conference.