The launch was done between the government of Samoa, International Trade Centre (ITC) and Stakeholders to partner to ‘Integrating Women Entrepreneurs in SIDS into the Global Economy’.
The project aims to boost participation of pacific women in business and will be piloted in the first three countries namely Papua New Guinea (PNG), Vanuatu and Samoa.
Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo said the government of Samoa is pleased to support this project and will assist in ensuring this project benefits both Samoa and pacific women.
Lauofo stressed that such initiative will empower pacific women to participate and contribute to national economies as is the case to Samoa.
ITC executive director told all partners, government heads and representatives of SIDS at the launch that women play a vital role in SIDS economies with successful women entrepreneurs contributing to employment creation and economic growth.
Ms Arancha Gonzalez said ITC is passionate about women economic empowerment.
“Not because it is fair, not because it is right but because it makes a lot of economic sense,” Ms Gonzalez said.
She stressed that women are powerful and incredible instruments that can achieve economic development that has over the past years been overlooked.
“Women entrepreneurs reinvest 90 percent of their revenue back into their communities and families. And so through that, we have an incredible and very powerful instrument to achieve development,” she said.
Adding, for that reason ITC led to work to developing the ‘Economic Empowerment of Women in the Pacific’ project that has three legs, one in Samoa, Vanuatu and PNG as pilot projects before spreading out to other pacific nations.
Ms Gonzalez reaffirms ITC’s commitment to working in particular with the Pacific Trade and Invest.
“But we want to send a clear signal that we want to work in the pacific but with the pacific which is probably more important than for the pacific,” she added.
She stressed that the SIDS conferences is about making sure that SIDS get the best possible future for their countries and that can be achieved through partnerships.
“ITC is absolutely passionate about partnerships because we ourselves are a partnership” Ms Gonzalez said.
She added they will sign an MOU with the Pacific Island Forum to work with them to understand and translate into realities the potential that exists in this region for value change.
“In ensuring the greater part of that value is captured by countries in this region.”
ITC’s Women and Trade Programme is supported by the governments of Australia, the United Kingdom and Norway. The Government of Australia is providing AUD 3 million to ITC for the implementation of the Economic Empowerment of Women in the Pacific project.
This is part of Australia’s AUD $320 million pledge to empower women in the Pacific region the 2012-2022 period.
In Samoa, the project’s objective is to increase the engagement of women in trade through access to government procurement contracts.
In Papua New Guinea, the main objective of the project is to improve the livelihoods of women Bilum producers.
In Vanuatu, the aim is to improve the livelihoods of women smallholders and their communities in Espiritu Santo.
BY DANIEL NAMOSUAIA
In Apia, SAMOA