Changing politics trigger predictions for Fiji’s first woman prime minister

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22nd March, 2018

By Nasik Swami in Suva.

Fiji might see its first woman prime minister after this year’s general election, predicts New Zealand-based political sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva.

Following in the tracks of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Dr Ratuva believes politics in Fiji is drifting away from the old patriarch-type where men led in the political arena.

“Politics is shifting away from the old patriarch-type to the paradigm-shifting women who have been able to break through the glass ceiling like Jacinda Ardern,” he said.

Dr Ratuva said for Fiji’s upcoming general election, women such as National Federation Party’s Lenora Qereqeretabua, Social Democratic Liberal Party’s Lynda Tabuya and Tanya Waqanika, were strong provisional candidates.

“They are all young, ambitious and smart and they represent the new generation of women politicians who will no doubt become dominant voices in Fijian politics.

He said the three women in particular had become dominant voices in the country.

“Interestingly, Lynda Tabuya, Lenora Qereqeretabua and Tanya Waqanika are all from Kadavu Island where I also come from and they bring with them the critical and intelligent voices from the south of Fiji, which is still one of the least developed parts of the country in terms of infrastructure such as roads.”

Dr Ratuva said the lead-up to the polls would be interesting with many parties yet to announce their women candidates.

‘Anything possible’

(L-R) Ms Lenora Qereqeretabua, Ms Tanya Waqanika, and Ms Lynda Tabuya are part of a growing number of women that have expressed interest to stand in the 2018 Fiji elections.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said with the shift in the ideologies of the public, anything in Fijian politics was possible, including the election of a woman PM.

Ali said she’d love to see a woman taking charge of the country.

She believes the country needs to get away from its traditional thinking and support women candidates who think outside the box and address pressing issues.

Ali said Fijians needed to look at things realistically, and support and young intelligent women to garner for a seat in Parliament.

[Source: Asia Pacific Report, March 21, 2018]

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