THE incoming Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor of Papua New Guinea has dedicated her appointment to the women of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region.
“It’s a big step for women in my country and for women in the region and I acknowledge our mothers, sisters and our daughters at this time,” she told reporters on Friday.
“The broader message is that my two deputy secretaries are women as well. I know that some will say let’s see what these women can deliver. Men in the Pacific know that in all traditional obligations women are partners.
“However, what is new in this case is that three women are at the helm of the eminent regional architecture, Dame Taylor told journalists here in Koror.
“The decision making process in the Forum is predominantly male. That’s fine with us and we will we will work with that. The most important thing is to deliver on the decisions of Leaders.
Immediately after the Post-Forum Dialogue session Friday morning, Dame Taylor met briefly with the outgoing Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade and his senior executive team.
Dame Taylor said she would be consultative in her approach to dealing with important regional agenda issues.
“I am keen to establish a consultative process with people in our countries.
“We live in island states and most of the time focus on our own issues. If we want a regional approach, we need to have our people believe in it and are part of it,” said Dame Taylor.
On dealing with Fiji after she takes up her job towards the end of the year, Dame Taylor didn’t go into detail saying the political agenda issues of the Forum are determined by the Leaders.
Another important issue for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is linking with the work of sub-regional organisations.
“Sub regional agenda is very important. What PIF has been trying to do is pull it together under one regional umbrella.
“There will always be national and sub regional interest but there is got to be a regional focus. That regional focus really has to be driven by the Leaders.
“If you look at the Eminent Persons Report those decisions have to be taken by the Leaders and not the technocrats who are there to support the Leaders,” explained Dame Taylor.
In Papua New Guinea, the regional approach is not often discussed because of its own national interests.
“In PNG we don’t very often think of the regional approach because of our own national issues but it’s important for countries to know and understand strategic issues that affect us that are beyond our shores, said Dame Taylor.
“On the issue of Australia and New Zealand involvement with PIF, Dame Taylor said the two countries are two of the region’s biggest partners and contributors and that role will continue into the future.
“Does that shift in the new regional framework? Is there realignment in how Australia and New Zealand work with the rest of the Pacific? These are issues not for me to define but for the Leaders to decide.”
Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato said his country believes in effective partnership and will continue to recognise the contributions of Australia and New Zealand in the development of the region.
“They are an important partner and effective contributors to the Pacific Islands Forum members and will continue to do so in the future. Geographically speaking they are part of the Pacific. Whether we like it or not we are in this together. There have been rumblings here and there but in the long term we will have to work with them.
PNG, he said, will not be affected by any new agenda but continue to engage with Australia and New Zealand in the implementation of the new Framework for Regionalism adopted by Forum Leaders this week in Koror.
Minister Pato thanked Forum Leaders for their support towards the appointment of Dame Taylor as Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The current term of Tuiloma Neroni Slade ends in October. Dame Taylor is likely to take up her new post towards the end of the year.
By Ofani Eremae
In Koror Palau