Ladies and gentlemen, on what is my first official tour of the Western Division, I am absolutely delighted to be here in Ba today on the occasion of the completion of the ‘Women’s Transformation’ project, which was implemented under the expert guidance of the Executive Mentoring Group with funding from the British High Commission.
My team at the British High Commission and I have been personally inspired by the excellent and important work carried out here by the Executive Mentoring Group and the Ba Women’s Forum. I am pleased to hear that the workshops organised under this project have been so well attended. And of course I hope that as community leaders you feel emboldened by the training you have received and newly equipped with ideas and plans for the year ahead. I look forward to hearing more about them.
Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, both at home and internationally, is a priority for the UK Government.
Our actions are founded on firmly held principles. We believe that where women live free of violence, have equal access to education, healthcare, political and economic opportunities societies are healthier, more prosperous and more peaceful. This is our goal.
In Fiji and across the Pacific the British High Commission has supported a wide range of projects and initiatives to advance women’s rights under our Bilateral Programme Fund. And as a leading member of the European Union – contributing 15% of its development budget – we are encouraging it to play a similar role.
The UK also works through the UN system to promote gender equality and to bring about an end to violence against women. The UK is a member of the UN Women Executive Council. And we are one of the principal supporters of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, the founding resolution for the ‘Women Peace and Security’ agenda, which aims to protect and empower women in conflict situations. The UK was one of the first countries to devise a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325, which serves to integrate the aims of the resolution into our diplomatic, defence and development work.
We are very proud to be supporting this initiative. I will finish by wishing you every success for the year ahead.