AGM 2013


President’s Report

Annual General Meeting 28 November 2013

This has been a quietly productive year for PPSEAWA CI. At the AGM of 2012, only five of the Executive Committee positions were filled.  The remaining seats were to be filled during the year as necessary. As membership numbers were also low there were few options but to carry on and try to interest new prospects in becoming members of PPSEAWA.

Early in our year of administration we resolved to seek some input on the way ahead for PPSEAWA. Our three activity areas have been Peace, Literacy and Gender for a number of years and those action areas are laid out in our constitution. We had no leader for the Literacy Council and the Peace Council former leader was seeking to hand over the reins to someone else, but had continued in the interim under reduced circumstances. We invited the Past Presidents of PPSEAWA to a discussion about this problem over lunch.

We were very encouraged by the advice we received and that was to do what we could do rather than worrying too much about what we couldn’t do. We resolved that we would focus on the one area for this year – Gender – as we had the interested woman-power to work in that area.

Our participation in gender related matters has included discussions with the Gender and Development Division of INTAFF, participating in the recent Pacific Triennial Conference on Gender, providing PPSEAWA International’s President with a Situation Report on Violence against women and children in the Cook Islands for the UN Consultation on the Status of Women Meeting earlier this year. Tau and Jolene attended the NCW Gender & Women in Leadership Conference and I have represented PPSEAWA at meetings and in the media.

As the International Day of Peace has always been celebrated by PPSEAWA, in 2012 we were fortunate to be able to host a special function attended by members and guests. Although the event was scheduled to be held in the Peace Garden, torrential rain forced a changeover to the USP. The event was well attended. This year we were not able to pull together an event. However a Peace Day message from PPSEAWA was published in the CI News and Johanna was able to broadcast a Peace Message throughout the Ministry of Education.

A special award for Paddy Walker’s contributions to PPSEAWA was made at the conference and carried to Rarotonga by Miriama Lima of PPSEAWA Samoa during her visit to the Triennial Conference on Gender. A special presentation was made to Paddy at her home which was warmly received.

Earlier this year Paddy was also honored with The Critical Studies in Education Distinguished Fellow Award by the University of Auckland for her Pasifika contributions and we extend her our congratulations for the bouquets that she has thoroughly deserved.

One of the main activities for the year has been developing and carrying out the “Balancing Leadership: A pathway to parliament for CI women” project. The project is funded by the Social Impact Fund (SIF) and PPSEAWA received a grant of NZ$50,000 to carry out the activities.

The project has three distinct features: 1) producing a handbook for prospective candidates for the next election; 2) running a campaign strategy workshop for women candidates and 3) producing 6 commercials that will cause the public to consider a) women as leaders and b) how they use their vote.

At this stage, the handbook is being written and is expected to be completed by the end of January 2014 including Maori translation. The commercials are being scripted and pre-production activities are expected to commence in January with production scheduled (at this stage) for February 2014. The commercials will go to air prior to the next election and air time is included in the funding.

The Cook Islands features in the Global Information Society Watch 2013 which was recently launched at the Internet Governance Forum The 2013 edition of GISWatch examines how the internet and other ICTs have extended the public sphere and created new opportunities and freedoms for women.  An article, encompassing women’s rights, gender and ICTs in the Cook Islands, was the collaborative work of Maureen Hilyard, Lynnsay Rongokea and Alexis Wolfgramm and uses the PPSEAWA CI Balancing Leadership project as the model for how we are using technology to advance gender equality.

An application to the Pacific Media Assistance Fund for more commercials to strengthen the Balancing Leadership project was short listed but ultimately declined.

In December 2012 the maternity leave provisions of the Employment Relations Act was enacted. Our contribution through the research project that Maureen and I carried out for Punanga Tauturu Inc was partly adopted through the model that we had proposed.

During the year the PPSEAWA International conference was held in Fiji during September. Initially we had resolved to send a small delegation but as the time drew near, the commitments of our executive members did not allow for our representation at the meeting. In the past members have had to fund their own travel and accommodation at the Conference. While it was sad not to have a Cook Islands presence at the conference, attendance is voluntary on the part of all members and the opportunity will happen again in the future. The executive had initially decided to send two delegates at PPSEAWA’s expense, but then resolved that the funds would be better applied at home.

Therefore for the remainder of the Balancing Leadership SIF project and until November 2014, PPSEAWA CI will be renting and sharing office space with Punanga Tauturu Inc. We considered that PTI was an appropriate choice as we have a common interest in furthering the development of women and children. We also believe that each NGO can add to the value of the other through sharing information and networks. For that period of time, PPSEAWA will have a physical location for its activities and resources.

As part of the CIIAG project, also funded by SIF, Maureen Hilyard was able to set PPSEAWA up with our own blog site. She has been maintaining the site but will train the Secretary to keep the site updated. She also arranged a training program for the social services sector on website construction which I attended.

One of the tasks that we had hoped to contribute to was the CEDAW Shadow Report. However, the government report on CEDAW, which is now more than two years overdue, has not yet been published so the Shadow Report has been held up. We shall continue our interest in ensuring that the report is completed and that PPSEAWA is a strong contributor. We were also not able to carry out the poverty research that we had hoped to do, as the Balancing Leadership project has taken priority. However we may be able to start that project next year.

We also participated in the recent Statistics Office workshops as civil society representatives with input on the type of data that is useful to civil society, what we use statistical information for, what our issues are in accessing data and what happens to the data that we collect.

While the PPSEAWA executive has remained small this year and our membership is not large, nonetheless I believe that we have made some contributions to the gender equity debate in the Cook Islands and our presence has been felt. We all understand that women who are working hard are in demand, constantly juggle priorities and sometimes have to let some of the volunteer work go, to maintain their responsibilities at work and at home. I am grateful for the support of our small working team and am proud that although we may be small in numbers, we are still making our presence felt and working for the good of women and children in the Cook Islands.

Alexis Napa Wolfgramm



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