Challenges issued as the National Council of Women celebrate International Women’s Day

The National Council of Women hosted their annual International Women’s Day event this morning with invited guests and dignitaries. President Mrs Nogimoka Poumale told the gathering that Niue women are very fortunate to have many opportunities these days compared to the hardship faced in years gone. She thanked the government for their continuing support to the Council with their annual grant which now stands at $10,000.

The Director General of the Ministry of Social Services responsible for women’s affairs Gaylene Tasmania used the international theme of “Choose to Challenge” in her speech to challenge the government on the long-awaited Family Law Bill which has taken more than ten years in the making and have yet to make it to the Foko Ekepule. She also challenged the National Council of Women to make use of the Niue National Awards and to nominate the hard-working women on the island for these awards.

Perhaps the most poignant speech of the day was delivered by the New Zealand High Commissioner Helen Tunnah. “Today is a day we celebrate the achievements of women but it’s also a day when we remember the challenges that women around the world still face, including here in the Pacific.”

Ms Tunnah told of the privilege to have worked for some two decades as a journalist before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She told a story that is the reason why International Women’s Day is remembered differently in many regions of the world, about three young women working for a TV station in Afghanistan who were murdered on their way home from work, the youngest was eighteen and the oldest girl was only twenty-two years old.

The High Commissioner was evidently emotional telling this story because while we celebrate the day here in Niue, in other parts of the world women and girls remain vulnerable victims of violence and discrimination. For this TV station in Afghanistan, out of ten women employees, four have been murdered in the past two months, murdered just for going to work.

Minister for Social Services Hon. Sauni Tongatule challenged the National Council of Women to invite more members into their group and encourage them to continue to take good care of their husbands and not to let them go to the bush all the time.

International women’s day was also celebrated last week by the Chamber of Commerce hosting more than one hundred women to a breakfast networking session at the Scenic Matavai Resort.

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