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[Media Release - OPM] International Women's Day 2021 #choosetochallenge

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

8 March 2021


Office of the Prime Minister

Ra Akararangi’anga no te iti vaine Kuki Airani – a legacy of strength

The International Women’s Day movement has called upon the global community to “Choose to Challenge” for gender equality this year. In this corner of the world, the Cook Islands is committed to accelerating gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

In the Cook Islands, seven of the 14 Public Service Agencies are led by Women with four of the eight Statutory Agencies led by Women. New Zealand, a close neighbour of the Cook Islands, was the first in the world to give Women the right to vote in 1893 – the Cook Islands permitted women to vote soon after.

Today 8th March, our island nation honours te iti vaine o te Kuki Airani and is reminded that we can all strive to do more for gender equality.

“Our Cook Islands women have played a historical role in shaping our country, and they continue to do so in a myriad of ways today,” said Hon Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands. “When we empower our Cook Islands Women, we are enabling and empowering a richer nation for us all. Kia ‘iki, e kia titau tatou - let all choose to challenge.”

A special event will be commemorated on Manihiki today with Prime Minister Mark Brown. “We have many role models across our 15 islands that are inspiring and empowering our communities every day. We must commemorate and celebrate them all, not only on International Women’s Day, but every day, as we work together to uplift our people,” said Prime Minister Brown.

The Cook Islands Family Welfare Association (“CIFWA”) hosted an International Women’s Day Breakfast on Saturday featuring guest speaker Dr Evangeline Daniela-Wong who spoke on self-care, mental wellbeing and choosing to challenge.

This evening, the Cook Islands Business and Professional Women’s Association is hosting an event presenting six talented Cook Islands speakers – Teuru Tiraa Passfield, Lindsay Francis, Apa Temata, Pamela Maru, Liana Scott, and Tuaine Lady Marsters.

2021 is also the 50th anniversary year of Cook Islands Women in Policing. On this month fifty years ago the Cook Islands had their very first women in the Police force – Jane Tuavera, Makiroa Luka and Lynn Webb.

“The Cook Islands has a legacy of strong women, especially in the face of many challenges,” said Lady Marsters.

“We congratulate our Cook Islands Women and are optimistic for our future with the generations of Women alive today. Many of whom have that perseverance, strength and tenacity to propel us forward towards gender equality across all areas in the Cook Islands.”

The International Women’s Day movement is steeped in a rich history. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City for shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights – NZ saw Women voting since 1893. In 1910, the Second International Conference of Working Women endorsed an International Women’s Day.

In the Cook Islands, our traditional history shows strong Women in leadership with paramount chiefly titles being held by many.

To learn more about how you can choose to Challenge for gender equality visit:


Enquiries to Jaewynn McKay +682 55486;

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