Empowering Women and Girls in FSM

Strengthening Gender Machinery Project Focuses on Leadership and Advocacy

October 2, 2023
Gender Machinery Project

UNDP's Gender Machinery in FSM Project recipients.

Photo: UNDP

A groundbreaking initiative is set to revolutionize the role of women and girls in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), focusing on enhancing their leadership capabilities and promoting gender equality. 

The Strengthening FSM’s Gender Machinery Project, which is jointly managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office and the Government of FSM is operating in Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap states to engage women, girls, and key partners in various activities such as policy advocacy, income generation, and access to essential small-scale infrastructures. Working in partnership with traditional community leaders, the project aims to address critical issues that are of utmost importance to local communities. 

By primarily focusing on improving women and girls' agency, access, and control over clean water and sanitation services, it aims to combat the leading causes of diarrhoea and child mortality among children under five, as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Through this comprehensive approach, the project seeks to empower women and girls by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to take on leadership roles within their communities. By engaging in gender-related policy advocacy, women and girls will have the opportunity to shape and influence decisions that directly impact their lives. The project will also facilitate income generation activities, enabling women and girls to become economically self-sufficient. 

A joint mission of UNDP Pacific and FSM government representatives recently held consultations on tenders, bids, contracts for income generation activities, value addition, state water and sanitation infrastructure facilities, and procure equipment for flush toilet facilities in the four states. By promoting access to small-scale infrastructures, the project aims to create an enabling environment that supports the growth and development of women-led enterprises. 


34-year-old Paula Mitmow of Teb village in the state of Tamil-Yap is a mother of six children who has devoted her time to the health sector for the past five years. She became part of the Health and Livelihoods for Women program this year and has been able to offer even more to her local community by bringing together women, girls, and youth to collaborate on a nursery project to enhance health, economic, social, and cultural livelihoods, and lives. 

"Since my involvement with these community projects, I have realized that women play an important role in the community in terms of food security, healthy living and likelihood, and knowledge transfer to future generations,” she said. 

Mrs. Mitmow highlighted that this has been a huge inspiration for her to keep working every day for the welfare of her community.

The project recognizes the importance of collaboration and partnership in achieving its goals. By working closely with key stakeholders, including community leaders and local organizations, the initiative aims to foster a collective effort towards gender equality and women's empowerment. 

Honorable Tulensa Palik of the Lelu municipality is the current Governor of Kosrae State and an active gender champion in FSM. He is a former military officer and former speaker of the 12th Kosrae State Legislature. He continues to be a driving force behind the Family Protection Act and Maternity Leave for government working mothers, with works in progress to be inclusive of working mothers in other sectors of the state. 

"The Health and Livelihoods for women require priority work in the upgrade of sporting facilities, which will encourage more participation of women, girls, and youth in improving FSM lifestyles," he said. 

As the project unfolds, it is expected to bring about significant positive change in the lives of women and girls in FSM. 

66-year-old Faustina Francis of Fefen municipality in Chuuk State, has been a farmer for the past 40 years and believes the FSM Gender Machinery project has allowed her to better utilize her time to create value addition products for income generation from local staple foods for her local women's community, as well as offer additional tasty local snack options. 

"The project has encouraged the community, including farmers, women, girls, and youths, to grow more of their local taro, cassava, breadfruit, and banana produce for better health, economic, social, and cultural well-being,” she said. 

UNDP Pacific’s Inclusive Growth Analyst Patrick Tuimalealiifano said, “Enhancing women’s ability to design and lead the implementation of sustainable income generating activities will help to address various barriers that women face in terms of achieving gender equality.” 

He added that “Becoming successful enterprise owners can be achieved through providing the right training, mentoring on running a business and developing a favorable enabling environment to be able to access the required capital and financial services.” 

By enhancing leadership capabilities, advocating for gender equality, and addressing critical issues such as clean water and sanitation, the project is expected to contribute to the overall development and well-being of the communities in Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap states.

The India-UN Development Partnership Fund Commonwealth window, which was formed in 2018, is funding the Strengthening the FSM Gender Machinery project.  The facility, a sub-window of the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, within the UN Fund for South-South Cooperation (UNFSSC), is supported and led by the Government of the Republic of India and implemented in collaboration with the UN system and works to advance the implementation of the SDG’s through concrete initiatives in response to cooperation requests made by other developing countries that are Commonwealth members, such as small island developing states (SIDS). 

The India Fund contribution continues to work toward improving FSM's gender machinery's ability to mainstream gender and enhance inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination and collaboration at the national and state levels.