New Zealand launches Pacific Defence Gender Network in Apia

Minister of Defence Ron Mark has announced the launch of a Pacific Defence Gender Network to promote the meaningful participation of women in Pacific defence forces through annual seminars and increased collaboration.

“The Network will promote gender equality in regional defence forces while encouraging men to become champions and advocates”, says Ron Mark.

“With a foundation of inclusion and collaboration, this Network will work to empower women within Pacific defence forces. Their collective effort aims to remove the recruitment and retention barriers that limit the potential of women in our regions defence forces.”

“We’ve seen how diversity in our own Defence Force has grown our reputation and capability.  We now have more women in leadership roles in the NZDF and it’s making us a more effective organisation.

“Therefore we know first-hand that promoting an integrated and diverse military enhances operational effectiveness and supports greater resilience and stability,” says Ron Mark.

Current members of the Network include the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, the Vanuatu Mobile Force, the Australian Defence Force and the New Zealand Defence Force.

The Network was launched tonight in Apia by New Zealand’s Vice Chief of Defence Force, Air Vice Marshal Tony Davies, during a Women, Peace and Security Summit, 22-23 August.

The Summit is a partnership between New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence and Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to promote the visibility and implementation of the global Women Peace and Security agenda in the Pacific.

Summit participants include representatives from regional defence forces, including the New Zealand Defence Force, police, civilians, academics, civil society and youth representatives.

The Network will work in parallel with and complement the existing police-led Women’s Advisory Network, established in 2003 by the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police to support the empowerment of women in policing in the Pacific.