Vanuatu has made progress in gender equality despite its status as a least developing country, said the Minister of Justice, Ronald Warsal.

Minister Warsal made this statement on International Women’s Day when he joined women in Port Vila to call for a more inclusive, gender equal world.

The call to eliminate discrimination against women in Vanuatu begun many years ago, but today women continue to experience gaps in work places and participation in public decision makings.

The concern of women is that they deserve the same rights given to men as the right to be elected into parliament and to hold high offices.

In Vanuatu, no women have been elected into parliament since 2012.

However, there are some progress as women are appointed heads of government bodies, are elected secretary generals and councilors.

There is an increase in the number of women occupying positions in male dominated fields in science, technology and engineering, it was revealed.

Minister Warsal said: “More women are becoming doctors, lawyers and pilots.

“Though, they still face challenges and cultural barriers,” he added.

On the contrary, the occasion noted that there is no discrimination against men in institutions like women’s centre and department of women’s affairs.

A speech from a women’s leader conveyed the reality in Vanuatu where the number of women in the informal sector exceeds that of men.

Apart from doing market, more women are doing unpaid jobs such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of children and families.

The occasion commended women in the private sector that contribute significantly to grow the country’s economic sector.

The representative of the UN Market for Change called on the government to ensure a 50-50 percentage inclusive workforce by 2030.

Meanwhile, Minister Warsal assured that the government is striving for further progress in gender equality, ensuring that the gender policy is integrated by all government levels and across all sectors.

Women leaders and women groups have been urged to put aside differences and unite with the government, through the Department of Women’s Affairs, for change.