Outgoing Secretary PIFS Urges Leaders to Invest In Educating Young People

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Outgoing Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor.

BY ALEX DADAMU

THE outgoing Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, has urged leaders to invest in educating young people to be critical thinkers.

Dame Meg Taylor made the statement during a press conference held after the appointment of the new Secretary General, Henry Puna, on Wednesday last week.

The two-term PIFS Secretary General said it is important we invest in the education of our region’s young people.

“Not just going to school and university, but to be thinkers, to be critical thinkers, to learn, to be inquisitive, to explore and of course to serve.

“If we can inspire younger people to be able to do that, then we can say we have accomplished something,” Dame Meg said.

When asked about leaving the Forum Secretariat with not a single female in the top management of the secretariat, the outgoing SG said women have also left the top positions at other regional organizations.

“But I’m very proud to say that the Pacific Islands Forum appointed me as Secretary General in 2014 and I’ve served two terms. I hope that I have touched the minds and hearts of young women that they too will aspire to senior positions within the region.”

“Women may have to make those choices themselves about if they want to take up those senior positions.

“These jobs are not easy. They are challenging and it comes down to a personal decision whether you’re prepared to take on those challenges,” Dame Meg articulated.

When asked if she had regrets she said, “from a personal point of view, if any regret that I have was that I don’t think I’ve put enough into youth or women.

“My job took me traveling so much around the region, I got to cover many issues.

“But as SG sometimes we want to dive deep, and it’s hard, because there are so many issues that are that we’re all managing. But I think this year, particularly because of COVID – because of the budgetary constraints, we did a very thorough prioritization process.

There’s been praise for Dame Meg Taylor’s leadership as regional leaders finally appointed her successor, Henry Puna from Cook Islands last week.

As the first woman Secretary General, perhaps the legacy Dame Meg left after her term in office was her passion to advocate for the region and reform the organisation for the better.

“When I first came here people used to say to me, oh you work for an organisation that is controlled by Australia because that’s who puts all the money in, “she stated.

She said that now with the development of a sustainable finance strategy, the contribution of forum island countries is now at 51% of the budget and Australia and New Zealand’s contribution at 49%.

However, According to Dame Meg, during the pandemic period, member countries were given 30% discount on their contributions to the Forum Secretariat.

“We were able to ensure that we could give our Member States 30% discount on their contributions. And that was very much appreciated. So it’s going to be focused, and leaner and the new SG will deliver with his team,” the outgoing PIFS Secretary General said.