Gender equality is integral to all efforts to expand people’s choices, realize a just and sustainable world, and achieve the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNDP’s commitment to making gender equality a priority, is reiterated in its Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025, which recognizes the need to combine shorter-term incremental changes that directly benefit individuals and communities with longer-term reductions in structural barriers that generate changes across social, economic, and other systems to see transformative change. Complimenting the Strategic Plan, 2022-2025 which proposes six signature solutions focusing on poverty and inequality; governance; resilience; environment; energy; and gender equality - the GE strategy pursues gender mainstreaming across all of them.

Our Goals

UNDP Samoa Multi-Country Office will follow a contextualized country driven approach to accelerate gender equality in Samoa, Niue, Tokelau, and Cook Islands, ensuring that the specific needs of the countries and its people are at the centre of all efforts. The MCO will ensure programmatic interventions are two-fold with gender specific targeted interventions and gender mainstreaming across all policies and programme from development and implementation to evaluation. Gender will also be integrated beyond programmes within operations, communications, accelerator lab and partnership ensuring a culture where every person is respected, valued, empowered, and feels safe and included in office operations and management.


UNDP Key Messages



Key Message 1

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the heart of UNDP’s work in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau.

We support regional and national efforts to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment. We work to strengthen the capacity of our national partners in the 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 agency, enhanced legal rights and increased skills and knowledge to strengthen the Pacific Islands’ resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. We are committed to making gender equality a reality, and in turn achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Key Message 2

Gender inequality remains a barrier to sustainable development across Pacific Island Countries. While the level and nature and of gender issues vary between countries depending on their economy, social and cultural norms, population demographics, migration patterns and political context, there are some challenges that are common to most Pacific Island communities. They include underrepresentation of women in the economic and political spheres, violence against women and girls including intersecting forms of discrimination and harmful practices, increased risk of HIV/AIDS and STIs, unequal access to justice, and discrimination and inequality rooted in norms and culture.

The UNDP Multi-Country Office's Strategy for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment 2022-2025 aims to empower, and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of, women and girls irrespective of age, disability, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status, and reduce inequalities of outcome including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action. The Strategy contributes to and strengthens the achievement of development results as set out by the UNDP Multi-Country Programme Document 2023-2027 for the Pacific Islands Countries and Territories with the vision of leaving no one behind.


Governance and Poverty Reduction Portfolio

Key Message 3

Gender equality is a crucial feature of democratic societies. Public institutions must provide services that advance the human rights of women and men equally and consider their specific experiences and needs. Women’s political empowerment is key to ensuring that decisions are credible and legitimate. When women and men share the power to make decisions and lead, the benefits are felt throughout their communities.

Limited or unequal access to justice and legal services can weaken protections for vulnerable groups. A well-functioning law enforcement and justice system is critical to preventing sexual and gender-based violence, which remains a pervasive violation of the fundamental rights of women and girls. In the Pacific, gender-based violence is reported at near epidemic levels, and the percentage of women in Kiribati, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu who have reported experiences of sexual violence in their life is reported as averaged between 60% and 70%.

We need to redouble our efforts to end violence against women and girls. To this end, UNDP works with national and international partners on shaping legal and policy frameworks to combat gender-based violence and supports national capacities to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls. UNDP promotes a culture shift to advance gender equality and inclusitivity to create a safe and supportive environment for women.

Key Message 4

In 2020, it was estimated that at least 1.5 million Pacific Islanders were living with some form of disability, and the prevalence of disability is expected to rise. With their particular vulnerability due to a range of physical, communication, policy, and attitudinal barriers, they find themselves amongst the most marginalised in their communities, and are overrepresented among those living in poverty and underrepresented in social, economic and public life, including in national decision-making. Evidence shows that women with disabilities face unique, individualised barriers compared to both men with disabilities and people without disabilities.

UNDP champions an inclusive approach to sustainable human development which benefits all and ensures that no one is left behind. UNDP is committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for people with disabilities. UNDP promotes disability inclusive development by supporting countries to develop and strengthen disability legal and policy frameworks, improve accessibility of services, social protection, livelihood opportunities, with the participation of persons with disabilities in decision-making in political and public life throughout planning, coordination and implementation of initiatives - “nothing about us, without us”.

Key Message 5

Stark gender gaps remain in the Pacific in regard to women’s economic participation. Men outnumber women in paid employment (outside the agricultural sector) by approximately 2:1, and earn 20% - 50% more than women.

The equal economic participation of women and men is a driver of development progress and economic growth, and it enhances countries’ resilience to shocks. Women’s economic empowerment includes their ability to participate equally in existing markets, access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies, and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions. Empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNDP is strongly committed to supporting national institutions and the private sector in creating an enabling environment for women’s full economic participation, and empowering women and girls to access opportunities and resources to realize their full potential.


Environment, Climate Change & Resilience Portfolio

Key Message 6

Climate change is reshaping the disaster riskscape of the Pacific SIDS, with the risks from tropical cyclones, floods, droughts and storms increasing significantly. Historically, women have been disproportionately affected by disasters, due to pre-existing gender inequalities. Global research has shown that women and children are 14 times more likely to die or be injured in a disaster than men. This was reflected in Samoa, where 70% of the adult deaths from the 2009 tsunami were women. Persons with disabilities too are disproportionately impacted by disasters and more likely to lose their life or be injured during a disaster as compared to people without disabilities.

The intersection of gender, disability and poverty creates a set of challenges and discrimination which often puts women and girls at higher risk during disasters. The existing vulnerabilities faced by women intersect with disaster risk, making women more susceptible during and after natural hazards. Furthermore, women are often employed in sectors heavily impacted by disasters, leaving them jobless when disasters hit. The loss of primary household income and economic independence is highly concerning as it directly affects women’s wellbeing, and has the potential to lead to an increase in gender-based violence. In parallel, women’s workload as primary caregivers with significant domestic responsibilities often increases.

The gender gap in vulnerability to disaster risk gap decreases as gender equality increases and women are more involved in decision-making processes. UNDP recognizes the value of women's unique perspectives, knowledge, leadership, capacities and efforts in community resilience building, disaster risk reduction and climate action. We strike to secure the full participation of women, youth and persons with disability in defining emergency preparedness and response plans.

Key Message 7

The Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are extremely vulnerable to climate change, and rank high in the climate vulnerability index. Climate change is not gender neutral. Environmental degradation caused by the climate crisis can exacerbate food and water insecurity, and amplify poverty  and underlying inequalities. Global research on the effects of climate change show that 69% of women face heightened health risks compared to 23% of men.

Despite the increasing number of women taking leadership and claiming climate action at national and international levels, their underrepresentation especially at decision-making levels in entities addressing the climate crisis - such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - remains pervasive. Out of 110 leaders present at COP27 (2022), only seven were women. One in five party delegations were headed by women, and women made up just over one in three of all party delegates.

UNDP advocates for putting gender considerations at the centre of efforts to combat the climate crisis. We work to ensure that women and girls – their leadership, agency, voice and specific needs – are not left behind.

Key Message 8

Ecosystems are highly gendered - women and man derive different values and benefits from ecosystem services and resources. They hold different roles in accessing, using and managing these resources, have different capacities and knowledge, and different priorities. As a consequence, women and men can end up being vulnerable in different ways and to different degrees when environmental resources are depleted. The value and benefits women and men derive from ecosystems are equally important: each contributing to and maintaining various aspects of livelihoods, including health, food security, income and culture.

In many countries around the world including in the Pacific, however, cultural norms and time-intensive household care duties often impede or limit women's abilities to participate in community consultations and decision-making processes. Women are hence often left out of decision-making opportunities in environmental sectors, including in ecosystem management, and their roles, capacities, knowledge and priorities are "invisible" and not considered. However, experience and evidence demonstrate that equitable participation and decision making between women and men in natural resource management results in more efficient, effective and long-term outcomes.

UNDP focuses its programme in a way to ensure that women, youth and other vulnerable populations benefit from, and participate meaningfully in, safeguarding and sustainably managing land and ocean ecosystems and biodiversity. We promote gender equality in rights and access to information and knowledge, resources and decision-making power.

Key Message 9

Clean energy can be transformative for gender equality. When women own and benefit from productive uses of energy, such as for paid work or for healthcare, opportunities for economic empowerment and resilience are unleashed. Further, the greening of the energy sector provides the chance to redress labour segregation in the sector and ensure women have new and better labour opportunities. In many countries including in the Pacific, however, the energy sector as a whole – from industry to policymaking – still largely does not include women as energy users, decision-makers or agents of a just energy transition. But when a gender perspective is prioritized, clean energy projects and policies can enable development for whole communities, leaving no one behind. Increasing women’s participation in energy-related education programmes and their access to productive and financial assets is essential.

UNDP promotes gender responsive programming for energy to ensure equal access to energy to unleash women's economic empowerment for inclusive green transformation for net-zero emissions.



Gender Parity Index (GPI)

Based on Tokelau's gross enrolment ratio for lower secondary in comparison to 2.4 in upper secondary education


Gross Enrolment Rate (GER)

For Females in comparison to males at 10% in the year 2020


Females in Cook Island

Females in Working Age Population (WAP) who are not in the labor force compared to 22.2% of the male (WAP)


Women in Parliament - Cook Islands

The Cook Islands has the highest proportion of female parliamentarians in the Pacific region with 7 of 24 Members (29%) with 8 out of 14 Ministries headed by women.


Women in Parliament - Samoa

Increased number of women parliamentarians from the last election to 2021