Dec 10, 2008

By Embassy of the United States of America Kolonia

The United States Embassy in Pohnpei recently awarded $26,540 in separate direct grants to the FSM Women's Action Network ($24,090) and the Pohnpei Women's Advisory Council ($2,450), both under the U.S. Department of State's Pacific Island Fund for Small-Scale Development. The Embassy administers such grants to assist civil society organizations with projects that support democracy, good governance and the rule of law. The two successful FSM proposals clearly advance the strengthening of democratic institutions by addressing the under-representation of women in the political process.

Ms. Tina Takashy, CEO of the FSM Women's Action Network (FSM WAN), signed the grant award on November 28 at the U.S. Embassy. Takashy founded this NGO as a national organization to advocate for gender equality of opportunity, human rights and social development throughout the Federated States of Micronesia. Membership in FSM WAN consists of individual professional women as well as community-based women's organizations and umbrella bodies that are actively involved in gender and development work. The U.S. grant will support a project to "Address the Under- Representation of Women in the Political

Process in the Federated States of Micronesia" through the application of a human rights-based citizen and good governance education campaign. Such a campaign is aimed at improving citizens' understanding of their electoral systems, deepening citizens' participation in the voting and democratic processes, instilling respect for the rule of law, and enhancing FSM citizens' cultural, legal, political and social rights and responsibilities.

Ms. Susana Sohs, President, signed the grant documents on behalf of the Pohnpei Women's Advisory Council (PWAC) at the U.S. Embassy on September 17. PWAC represents sixteen different women's groups in the State of Pohnpei. The grant will help support a project to "Strengthen Women's Equal Participation at all Government Levels". This project aims to improve gender equality in Pohnpei State by identifying women's strengths and weaknesses in all facets of civil society and the public sector. Objectives stress the development of women's talents and strategies to overcome challenges that currently stand in the way of meaningful participation in public life. As the proposal states, "Understanding human rights is the first step in the journey that Micronesian women must travel in their quest to attain equal opportunity and equal participation at all levels of public service."