Papua New Guinea's only woman MP is calling on Pacific Island countries to rally against religious conservatism to ensure young people can make informed decisions about sex and pregnancy.
Dame Carol Kidu was among several Pacific politicians attending the New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development's annual meeting, this year focusing on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Pacific adolescents.
Dame Carol says the churches are a greater force than politics in many ways but politicians must be prepared to take them on.
"The religious conservatism, we've got to work at it subtly and gently, I know, but we have to move fairly fast because there are people dying, there are people dying of HIV who should not be dying because they're too ashamed to go and get treatment - it shouldn't be happening, young people, good young people."
Dame Carol Kidu says indigenous leaders need to find religious champions and give them the courage to stand up for their beliefs.