Regionalism provides solidarity for Islanders

Wood Uti Salele from the Oceania Development Network (ODN) chaired the parallel session. ‘Regionalism on Service Delivery in Pacific Island States; Emerging Issues’ discussed the recent changes in approaches to Pacific regionalism and their impact on service delivery at household, district, national and Pacific-wide levels.

The session included a paper by Claire Slatter from the School of Social Sciences, University of the South Pacific in Fiji, titled ‘Reclaiming Pacific Island Regionalism: Women’s Voices’. Slatter approached the issue from a critical perspective focusing on easing capacity constraints for governments through increases in the provision of services and new pacific regionalism.

For many years regionalism has been an important mechanism for providing very small and scattered Pacific island nations with solidarity. It allows them to collectively resist powerful outside interests that pose a threat to the Pacific island welfare. It has also been an important mechanism for ensuring inter-governmental, non government and multi-national organisations provide support for services in situations where this is unusually difficult.

Regional solidarity has included movements for political independence, women’s rights, the environment, opposition to nuclear testing, nuclear bases and dumping of nuclear waste. Recently, regionalism and the way regional policies have played out have changed. This has significant long term implications for livelihood options, development prospects, quality of life and general well-being of Pacific Island people, particularly women.

Discussant Lake Ah Chong, Lecturer in the Faculty of Education in the National University of Samoa supported women’s demands as long as they “do not clash with the objectives and of local governments and local people”.
Chong brought to light an important point “although some people move from the islands to go work in developed countries they usually occupy the same position as at home in terms of class, and access to opportunity”. He stressed that the issue of education needs to focus on increase the opportunity of people to raise their social and financial class.

See more stories from the GDN 2010 Conference, watch participants’ videos interviews, download conference presentations and papers

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About Pier Andrea Pirani
Information, knowledge sharing and communications in international development - Social media and collaboration tools.

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