Samoan women offer help in promoting TSM bill

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Galumalemana Nu'ufou Petaia, CEO of Education, Luagalau Foisaga Shon, former CEO of Women and Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe, CEO of Health, are among a growing number of women holding key leadership positions in Government. The next step, which is what the Bill hopes to achieve, is to ensure these women enter Parliament where laws that govern the country are formulated. Photo: Marieta Heidi Ilalio.

A number of influential women in Samoa plan to propose an alternative process to Government on how to enact the controversial bill tabled in Parliament this week, to guarantee 10 per cent of seats in the House are occupied by women. The ‘core group’ met at the Samoa Umbrella for Non Government Organizations (SUNGO) headquarters at Vaitele last Saturday to formulate the ‘best process’ in order for the bill to work.

The group found that the major disapproval from the public was the process of implementing the bill but not on having 10 per cent of seats for women. “We are in agreement with the bill and we agree that 10 per cent of seats should be guaranteed for women, but we need to focus on the best process to bring about the change,” said Spokesperson for the Group, Roina Vavatau.

The proposed process will be presented to government in the next few weeks after a Civil Society forum that the group will call to get feedback from the public. “I do not want to reveal the details of the process that we are suggesting until we have deliberated on it with the public,” she said.

The group has already written a number of processes to implement the bill but want to consult the public before presenting it to government. “We want to do it in a fair, contestable manner because government has not said how they intend to implement the bill,” she said. “So we are offering them an alternative process on how to do it.”

She said an amendment to the Constitution was inevitable in order to have a better representation of women in parliament. “The government has accommodated the voices of those who were marginalized before through the Individual Voters Roll which was introduced for a better representation of [afakasi ] half castes in parliament. This time it is the women who are the marginalized voices so allocating a set number of seats for women in parliament as was done for the Individual Voters, should be considered.”

[Samoa Observer - By Charlina Tone]