FSM women

FSM President David Panuelo, center, front row seated, poses for a photo with the Inspiring Women’s Advancement project launch attendees in Pohnpei on March 18, 2021.

FSM Information Services photo

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — On March 18, 2021,  David W. Panuelo, president of the Federated States of Micronesia, attended the project launch and inception workshop for the new Inspiring Women’s Advancement Through Collective Action or IWA program.

Funded by the U.S. government and implemented through the International Organization for Migration, the IWA is a $2.2 million program with the intent to contribute towards increased local understanding, and demand, on removing barriers to gender equality in the FSM, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, through diplomacy and galvanizing coordinated actions.

The intended outcomes of the IWA program are, firstly, that gender discrimination towards women in the workplace, women in business, and entrepreneurs, is reduced through community awareness and socioeconomic empowerment of women.

Secondly, the IWA intends to ensure that project partners have increased capacity to take action against gender discrimination within their institution.

The IWA project includes numerous activities for women and youth, some of which include the creation of a Youth for Art initiative; the creation of a media influencer program; the creation of a Communication as Change campaign; a review of the regulatory landscape session; an emerging women leaders’ session; and competitive small grants to non-government organizations, youth-lead, and faith-based organizations to address gender discrimination, among many more.

The FSM national government strongly encourages citizens to review a video made by Carmen G. Cantor, U.S. ambassador to the FSM, which is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik_geis-uws

The project launch and inception workshop’s schedule included opening remarks from Lululeen Santos and Nathan Glancy, consultant and chief of party of IOM respectively, Somer Bessire-Briers, charge’d’affairs of the U.S. Embassy, and President Panuelo.

Prior to his remarks proper, President Panuelo addressed the proverbial elephant in the room — the Covid-19 pandemic — and the FSM’s vaccination rate. Noting that, while Palau will reach an  adult vaccination rate of 70% by late April to early May, the FSM is currently at approximately 13%.

President Panuelo said the FSM  will be simultaneously requesting additional Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the U.S. for remote communities and islands, and may decide to tie citizens’ receipt of financial stimulus programming for low-income and elderly citizens with documentary evidence that said citizens have received their Covid-19 vaccine.

“If we mandate children to take certain vaccines before going to school for their safety and our nation’s safety, it behooves our nation’s adults to do the same before getting their financial stimulus,” President Panuelo said.

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