Forum Focus on Improving Women’s Representation

Fewer than seven percent of Pacific Politicians are women, compared to 27 percent globally.

Participants at the Pacific Women in Power Forum held in New Zealand last week (image credit: UNDP)

The 3rd Pacific Women in Power Forum was held  in Auckland, New Zealand last week. The three day forum bought together women leaders from parliaments across 11 Pacific countries.

Members of the Niue Assembly including Minister of Natural Resources-Hon. Mona Ainu’u, Minister of Social Services-Hon. Sonya Talagi, Hon. Kahealan Hekau, Hon. Rhonda Tiakia Tomailuga and Hon. O’Love Jacobsen was in attendance.

Discussion centered on increasing the number of female leaders in Pacific government, the harsh realities women in politics face and persistent online harassment.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Pacific, “Fewer than seven percent of Pacific politicians are women, compared to 27 percent globally. For a nation such as Tuvalu, its recent general election saw no women elected to parliament. And in Fiji, the country’s most-recent election saw just six women win seats in the house, a 10 percent decrease in representation when compared to the country’s previous parliament.

However, there are some bright spots across the Pacific. In Nauru, two of the 19 seats in parliament are held by women, and in the Republic of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine was recently sworn in as President.

According to the UNDP Statement, In Vanuatu, Gloria Julia King became the country’s first women elected to parliament in almost 14 years, and in Papua New Guinea Francesca Semoso recently joined Rufina Peter and Kessy Sawang bolstering women’s representation to the highest levels since the parliament of 2012.”

Deputy Speaker in the parliament of the Autonomous Bougainville Government-Hon. Therese Kaetavara, said that to effectively represent its people, the composition of a parliament must reflect the population it serves.

“Under representation is not a mere statistic, it is our reality. We must appreciate each other as women leaders and learn from our unique and vast experiences. Only then can we collectively change the statistics on women in positions of leadership,” she said.

The Pacific Women in Power forum is supported by the people of New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, focused on enhancing women’s representation, fostering inclusivity and addressing gender inequality in politics.

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