Pacific stakeholders converge to advance gender research in the region
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USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra during his welcome address.
An active three-day discussion began on 20 June 2016 with around 50 dynamic Pacific researchers and stakeholders converging at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus to advance gender research capacity-building agenda among Pacific Island Countries.
The workshop is a collaboration between USP, UN Women, the Fiji Women’s Right Movement (FWRM), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Government.
It is being held from 21 to 23 June at USP’s Faculty of Business and Economics Postgraduate Lecture Theatre.
In his welcoming address at the official opening of the symposium and workshop, USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra said the importance of having enough Pacific Islanders specialising in gender research cannot be emphasised strongly enough.
“The 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration outlines key commitments that value and recognise the contributions of both genders to the region's well-being and sustainable development,” Professor Chandra stated.
“The implementation of the Declaration also requires trained gender researchers - those with knowledge of the complex local context, together with the skills to undertake competent research required for policy making and assessment,” he said.
Australian High Commissioner, HE Margaret Twomey at the opening symposium at USP.
Professor Chandra added that this week's workshop provides an excellent basis for future collaboration between USP and other universities, research institutions and organisations working in the area of gender.
“I sincerely hope that this will be the start of more partnerships among our institutions specifically for strengthening gender research among Pacific Island students and scholars,” he said.
The Pacific Gender Research Symposium and Workshop is an opportunity to:
• Present the findings of a recent Pacific Gender Research Scoping Study to stakeholders involved in supporting, conducting and using Pacific gender research for policy and development work;
• Further refine the analysis, findings and recommendations of the Study;
• Discuss the quality, dissemination and use of gender research in the Pacific for policy and development related work; and
• Discuss ways to prioritise and build capacity for relevant, quality gender research, including through strengthened partnerships amongst research institutions, development partners and Pacific island countries.
The opening symposium featured a presentation of the key findings of the Pacific Gender Research Scoping Study, which was conducted by a group of Pacific based researchers led by Dr Yvonne Underhill-Sem, Associate Professor, University of Auckland.
Dr Underhill-Sem emphasised that research plays a valuable role in providing new concepts, ideas and insights into apparently intractable issues which includes gender inequality.
She said that building on-going research capacity on gender equality in the Pacific is therefore critical.
“Research-informed policy making is a dynamic but imprecise process in the Pacific. This project created a bibliography of over 400 citations, an annotated bibliography of 135 pieces of research and a literature review of eight areas of concern.”
In her opening remarks at the Symposium, Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Margaret Twomey acknowledged the importance of gender-sensitive research in the region.
“Gender-sensitive research can inform policy dialogue, influence policymakers and contribute to effective policies for advancing gender equality. This is why the Australian Government is pleased to contribute to strengthening gender research in the Pacific,” she noted.
The workshop will consist of presentations and working sessions and will identify concrete actions to take forward the agreed findings and recommendations of the scoping study.
Imperative to this is the use of findings to strengthen gender-responsive policy making, development planning and programming.
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