THE Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) marked International Women’s’ Day on 8 March with a series of uplifting speeches.

Special mentions were given to Cristelle Pratt and Andie Fong Toy, who in their roles of Deputy Secretaries General, work with the Secretary General in serving the 16 member States of the Pacific Islands Forum, the premier political organisation of the region, and to provide leadership in the work of the PIFS.

“It is a significant milestone in the work and development of the Secretariat to have two highly professional and experienced women helping lead this organisation,” PIFS Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade said.

“Women are now competing and gaining high level positions in the region.

“Not only is indicative of the talent and experience that is developing and available across the region, it is setting the necessary patterns and thresholds for the younger generations. All this is highly exemplary and positive in enhancing leadership in support of the region’s development.

“Increasingly we are seeing organisations in the region recognise and embrace women leadership and as a result are thriving on what these skilled and often dynamic women bring to the table.”

Ms Pratt said she hoped to inspire, contribute and support the advancement of women particularly the next generation of women.

“International Women’s Day provides the opportunity for us all to reflect on the invaluable contributions that Pacific women make to society and economies at all levels of development,” she said.

“It also allows countries to focus on the full potential of available national talent and, in some cases, the overwhelming, yet untapped potential of women and girls across the Pacific.

“While serving the region I look forward to supporting the advancement and empowerment of women on a wide range of fronts.”

International Women’s Day was celebrated by a number of countries in PNG, including ACIAR which works with female farmers from a number of countries.

The company’s research aims to make agriculture more equitable for these women, to enable them to make money to send their children to school, improve housing and provide basic family necessities.

ACIAR said it acknowledged the efforts of outstanding women in PNG and other countries who were leading others to a better future.

Women also gathered at the Ela Beach Era Kone Amphiheatre to join in the celebrations.