In 2010, the Cook Islands National Council of Women in partnership with the Commonwealth Local Government Forum Pacific set down an ambitious program to begin to work with women entering decision making positions in the Pa Enua (Island) Governments. There are over 50 seats in local councils throughout the country. The key aims of the Akateretere Anga Tau O Te Pa Enua (meaning leadership in the Islands) Program is to:
• Establish island women in local government networks and coalitions to help drive gender equality goals.
• Provide mentoring and capacity development opportunities for women candidates in the lead up to the 2014 local government elections.
• Encourage Pa Enu Governments to engender workplace policies, practices and service delivery.
The local government sector has the potential to drive real change and improvement in communities. The Pacific is taking on a different landscape posing both challenges and opportunities for local governments such as increasing urbanisation, cultural diversity, skills shortages and economic recovery. The best possible solutions will be found if women and men combine their knowledge, skills and creativity together to ensure the local government sector and their communities prosper in the future.