The Web site of Pacific Magazine and Islands Business
November 2002

Cover Story
New Compact, New Rules

Lapita's 50 Years
Mana Man Unearthed


Fighting Extinctions
Water: The Next Big Thing

Pacific Fisheries
Fisherman Have a Voice in Fishery Management Decisions

Dancing The Night Away

Island Hoop Dreams

The State of the Federated States
A Chance To Do Better
MDs in the Wake of Typhoon Chata'an
Profitable Trash
Time For A Revolution
What About Chuuk?

Island Voices
My Say
Pacific Notes
Stuff We Like
View from Honolulu

November 2002

Cover Story
Treasure Trove Below The Waves
What's the state of play?

How Kiribati's ATR72 Plan Could Backfire

Book Review
What Is Threatening Development and Unity?

Contracting Cargo Space Bad News For Tuna Exports
Despite Gloom And Doom, PNG's Yumi Bridges A Success
South Pacific Stock Exchange

Melanesian Arts Festival

Taking Time For Tokelau
Water Everywhere, But Not Enough To Go Around

And That's Not All. More Bad News For Somare
Grimmer Outlook As Disaster Hits Rural Sector
President Flosse Discovers China
The Hunt's On For Rebel Harold Keke

Regional Briefing

Globalisation Not Neutral For The Pacific

Letter from Suva
We Say - 1
We Say - 2
We Say - 3


Globalisation Not Neutral For The Pacific
But women will have to learn to negotiate

By Christy Harrington

Leaders of women痴 organisations from the Pacific presented Pacific perspectives on 迭e-inventing Globalisation・at the Ninth Forum of the Association for Women痴 Rights in Development held in Guadalajara, Mexico last month.

The question of how globalisation and trade agreements impact on women痴 rights in the Pacific region was explored.

The human rights-based approach to women痴 issues is something new that has come out of globalisation, declared Dr Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop, of the National Council of Women in Samoa.

This approach, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, demands the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

Countries that ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) must abolish laws that discriminate against women, implement new laws to prohibit discrimination against women and mechanisms to ensure enforcement.

National reports outlining steps taken to comply with the convention must also be submitted.

Pacific women in Mexico (from left)...Margaret Leniston, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; Shelly Rao, coordinator Economic and Social Justice Programme of the Ecumenical Council for Research, Education and Advocacy; Dr Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop, Samoa National Council of Women; Sivia Qoro, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea.

Pacific countries that have ratified CEDAW include Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand.

The Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and Tokelau have also ratified CEDAW through their foreign administrations.

Despite the commitment to gender equality that some countries have made in principle through CEDAW, government economic policies often place gender equality in jeopardy, pointed out Margaret Leniston, Gender Issues Adviser at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva.

Trade agreements that were supposed to improve income-earning opportunities for women have been followed by the expansion of low-skilled, low-waged forms of employment for Pacific women.

The Pacific Islands Countries Trade Area (PICTA) agreement between the 14 Forum Islands Countries and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) were described as 都tepping stones to compliance with World Trade Organisation rules・by Shelly Rao, coordinator of the Economic and Social Justice Programme of the Ecumenical Council for Research, Education and Advocacy in Suva, and chair of the Fiji Women痴 Rights Movement.

To begin with, PICTA will lead to the gradual creation of a free trade area among the Forum islands countries over the next 10 years.

The islands countries will gradually phase out tariffs within the area, with larger islands economies abolishing tariffs by 2010 and smaller islands economies by 2012.

Items on a list of goods from 都ensitive industries・will have to be liberalised by 2016.

Later, PACER requires free trade arrangements to be negotiated between the Forum member countries and Australia and New Zealand.

This approach is designed to prepare Forum member countries for more extensive liberalisation later on.

The ownership and control of the Pacific痴 natural resources ・the land and sea ・are at issue in these trade agreements.

Communal notions of ownership and the semi-subsistence economies of the Pacific bring the appropriateness of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) model into question for the Pacific.

Fairbairn-Dunlop痴 research on women entrepreneurs in Samoa found that some women were taking advantage of the opportunities arising from globalisation, and were starting their own businesses. These entrepreneurial women were reinvesting in their businesses instead of putting their money back into the family economy as had been done traditionally.

The implications of this change for the family economy and for sustainable development in Samoa were questioned by Fairbairn-Dunlop.

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement is another example of the WTO痴 individual notions of ownership clashing with Pacific communal notions. According to Sivia Qoro, Women痴 Development Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Noumea, intellectual property rights deal with all the rights that stem from intellectual activity, from the 田reations of the mind・

The current intellectual property rights regime offers little or no protection to traditional knowledge and expressions of culture.

The medicinal properties of kava (Piper mythesticum) were listed as an example of traditional Pacific knowledge unprotected under intellectual property rights law.

Through patents in the United States and Europe on the use of kava to stimulate hair growth, French firm, L丹real, has turned traditional Pacific knowledge into a multi-million dollar industry.

The prevailing intellectual property rights laws seek to privatise ownership ・they do not recognise the communal ownership which often prevails in the Pacific.

According to Qoro, most custodians of traditional knowledge in the Pacific are women, who will be directly affected by the global intellectual property rights regime.

In recognition of the need to protect ownership of traditional knowledge, the 22 member countries and territories of the Pacific Community are engaged in efforts to develop a Model Law for the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions.

The Model Law sets out a definition of traditional knowledge as belonging to the group, clan or community, not to the individual.

The Model Law seeks to ensure that the collective owners of traditional knowledge are consulted and give their informed consent prior to the use of their traditional knowledge.

展omen will have to learn to negotiate their way through the world of intellectual property rights laws,・Qoro said, if they are to protect their traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.

Educational programmes to accompany the adoption of the Model Law to teach women how to use it, and the translation of the Model Law into vernacular Pacific languages were suggested.

The trade liberalisation led by WTO is presented as neutral but does not have a neutral effect on Pacific women.

Trade liberalisation under WTO affects countries and genders differently.

Speaking of the different effects of globalisation on Pacific countries, Qoro stated: 典hey assume it痴 a level playing field but it isn稚.・/p>

Following the creation of the WTO and the accompanying trade liberalisation, Pacific Islands economies have experienced a slowdown in growth. The informal sector has had to expand in the Pacific as formal sector employment has dwindled with cutbacks under structural adjustment programmes. In Fiji, the 3000 new jobs created in the formal sector annually are unable to meet the employment needs of the 12,000 school-leavers looking for work each year.

Globalisation was described as a 電ouble-edged sword・for the Pacific. While it brings new opportunities for Pacific women through the introduction of new technologies, it also increases women痴 vulnerability, for example, to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Rao argued there are two challenges for Pacific women in negotiating their way in the face of international trade agreements.

擢irst, we have to move away from the victim paradigm to a transformative paradigm. Second, our analysis needs to move from the domestic paradigm to understanding the relations among actors globally.・/p>

The need for Pacific women to engage in transformational politics, 澱ut on our own terms・ was emphasised by Fairbairn-Dunlop.

As an example, she described how the Pacific was lumped with Asia to prepare a submission for the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. But Pacific women were determined to submit a separate document, and wrote their own Pacific Platform for Action.

The Model Law to protect traditional knowledge demonstrates that the Pacific is on the cutting edge in innovating a response to the pressures of globalisation.

Despite Pacific women痴 innovation, Pacific women痴 voices were marginalised at the forum, according to Qoro.

Translation into French, Spanish and Russian was not provided for the Pacific session as it was for many others, and African, Latin American, and Asian women痴 voices dominated at the conference.

As a result, women from other parts of the world missed out on learning about the Model Law, which could be of use to indigenous people globally as they negotiate to protect their traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.


Marshalls Billfish Club
All Micronesia Fishing Tournament Marks 10th Anniversary

Pacific Fisheries
Fisherman Have a Voice in Fishery Management Decisions

Pacific Resources for Education and Learning
Schools Use Media to Create Unique Local Resources & MS ITT Promotes Digital Literacy in the Pacific

Pacific Leaders
Pacific Magazine profiles regional leaders (4 part series).

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