Fiji to identify potential women leaders for elections

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23 April 2012
Minister for Women, Dr. Jiko Luveni
Minister for Women, Dr. Jiko Luveni

In an effort to increase women representation in decision making bodies, Fiji’s Ministry of Women Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation is networking with communities and non-government organizations (NGO’s) to identify potential women leaders for next elections. This was confirmed today by the Minister for Women, Dr Jiko Luveni.  “The Ministry is working towards identifying potential women who may want to stand for the next elections and as captured into our annual corporate plan, these potential candidates will be provided with leadership training and means to prove themselves to the voters,” she said.  “Women must understand that we need to strengthen our competitive power for communities to recognise, appreciate our capabilities as women leaders and decision makers.

“We have potential women leaders in rural and urban areas who can be nominated to become members of the parliament, I encourage them to come forward, be informed and participate in the constitutional consultations and electoral process especially in preparation for the next elections,” Dr Luveni said. She said government is very serious about mainstreaming gender into all government development processes and providing equal opportunities for women in government’s development programs.

“We must remember that women make 49 percent of Fiji’s total population and without them will not be able to achieve real development. The women in Fiji are not overly discriminated so if we prove ourselves to the voters they will vote for us and this will take us forward with the vision of having 30 percent women representation into decision making bodies,” Dr Luveni reiterated.

Women comprise 49 percent of Fiji’s total population and it is important for them to be well-informed and engaged in the constitutional consultations process along with having a clear understanding of electoral reforms, she said

“Women make 49 percent of the voting population so they must be able to make informed decisions.  They must not only be fully aware of electoral process but most importantly be engaged in constitutional consultation process. The Ministry encourages women particularly those in rural areas, that when the constitutional process is taken out to rural communities they must come forward and be fully engaged in consultations,” Dr Luveni said.

The Minister reiterated that women at all levels will be given the opportunity to be engaged in the constitution process.  “The onus is on women ourselves, we must support each other and allow women not only in urban areas but also in rural areas to have a say in the constitution and electoral process,” she said.  “Up till the last elections there has been up to only 12 percent to 13 percent women representation in parliament and based on our Women’s Plan of Action (WPA-2010 to 2019). We would like to see this reach 30 percent, this is also articulated in Government’s framework for change.”

She said women are now represented in village development committees, tikinas, and provincial councils.  “All government ministries are well informed about the target for the Government is to increase women’s participation into decision making bodies to at least 30 percent and through gender mainstreaming, women programs are now incorporated into government’s development plans,” Dr Luveni added.

[PACNEWS via PINA and the Fiji Government Online Portal]

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