Women’s Policy for the Pacific Island of Nauru, the World's Smallest Republic

ADB is helping women from the Pacific island nation of Nauru to formulate their first ever women's policy.

Sitting just below the equator with a population of about 9000, Nauru is in a period of significant transition, facing economic and social pressures related to the decline of phosphate mining and activities associated with the Australian Regional Processing Centre for asylum seekers. Another challenge facing the world’s smallest republic is the development of its first ever women's policy.

 

In partnership and with assistance from ADB, Nauru will soon decide its first national women’s policy that will include the provision of rights and priority areas for the country's women.

"I can’t wait for the introduction of the National Women’s Policy," said 33 year old TV reporter Faith Mau. The divorced mother of one would like to see better health services for women and stronger laws to prevent violence against women included in the policy.

Policy and participation

The policy was developed by participants of an initial consultative workshop held in Aiwo, Nauru, in October 2013. The workshop aimed to raise awareness and understanding of the Government’s plan to develop a National Women’s Policy and discuss ideas for what sectors should be included in the plan.

The first consultative workshop was opened by the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Charmaine Scotty, a woman who stood for parliament and won in 2013, believing she could do as good a job as her male constituents. Ms. Scotty was only the second woman to secure a seat in Parliament since Independence in 1968.

A workshop for women

A women's policy for Nauru was developed by participants of an initial consultative workshop held in Aiwo in October 2013. The workshop aimed to raise awareness and understanding of the Government's plan to develop a national women's policy and participants discussed ideas for what sectors should be included in the plan.

"I can't wait for the introduction of the National Women's Policy."

-- Faith Mau, 33 year old TV reporter

The first consultative workshop was opened by the Minister for Women's Affairs, Charmaine Scotty, a woman who stood for parliament and won in 2013, believing she could do as good a job as her male constituents. Ms. Scotty was only the second woman to secure a seat in Parliament since independence in 1968.

During the workshop opening Ms. Scotty spoke of her support for equal rights and equal participation for women in all areas of life. She encouraged women and men to work together to develop the policy.

Workshop participants completed a series of activities in which they identified the concept of motherhood and family as the 'best thing' about being a woman in Nauru.

In another exercise, participants said family, friends, and community life while all valued are also the cause of most problems that Nauruan women experience. The women said these are the hardest things to manage, and are therefore limiting their opportunities in life.

In the workshop's final exercise participants listed what they considered to be the most important areas for government to include in the National Women's Policy. Nominated areas were: welfare, stronger laws and a better response mechanism for addressing domestic violence, better health services for women, discrimination against women, and finance and economic empowerment.

"My five years in the police force dealing with victims of domestic violence made me decide to join this workshop," said Priscilla Dake.

Businesswomen, mothers, police, media, teachers, civil society, and government officials participated in the workshop.

Next steps

The draft national women's policy will be presented at the second and final consultative workshop in Aiwo, Nauru. The draft policy will be further refined after the workshop and will be presented to cabinet for their consideration in the first quarter of 2014.