01st July, 2014
FEMALE representatives from most political parties took part in an informative pre-election workshop yesterday dealing with the importance of women’s political participation.
Hosted by the Fiji Women’s Forum, the workshop discussed women’s issues in politics with 21 political party and civil society organisation representatives at the Holiday Inn in Suva.
“The participants are women who are aspiring candidates, but also their campaign support as well. They’ve come together to be able to look at some of the challenges in recent times and also how to build on those challenges,” explained FEMLINKPacific’s executive director Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls in an interview yesterday.
“It is important because as we don’t have any temporary special measures or affirmative action in the Constitution, any female candidate — whether she runs as an independent candidate or within the political party system, will have to work doubly hard to make sure that she gets voted in and so it’s not going to be easy for the women who are going to be contesting.”
Ms Bhagwan-Rolls said feedback from participants was encouraging given the busy period the country was witnessing in the context of the looming September election.
“It’s only day one, but the feedback has been really great.
“It’s an extremely busy time obviously but the fact that women are committing chunks of their time is really important.
“I think it has also been really positive that we had a panel discussion today (yesterday) that drew on the wisdom of previous women candidates.”
The workshop will run all week and conclude on Friday, July 4.
The women’s forum also hopes to put together a handbook post-workshop as a reference point for its participants.