13th May, 2013
Report – By Michael Sergel and Finian Scott in Wellington
The key to ending decades of coups and political instability in Fiji is to appoint more women to positions of power, says the head of the Fiji National Council of Women.
General-secretary Faye Volatabu has turned heads with her statements at a Pacific politics forum meeting in Wellington.
She was one of many speakers yesterday to make a commitment to achieving better rights for women across the region.
“In Fiji, we had four coups and there were no women in Parliament,” she told delegates at the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum.”
“Maybe it will stop the coup culture if we had more women.”
She said the democratic rights of Fijian citizens have been trampled by four rounds of massive political upheaval, and she was frustrated by the lack of freedom.
Political unrest had overshadowed issues of gender inequality, and she was sick of what she saw as empty words from Fijian and other Pacific leaders.
‘Stop the rhetoric’
“It is time that we stop the rhetoric. More needs to be done and less said. It takes two hands to clap.”
Interim Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is currently developing a People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress ahead of elections in 2014.
The government is party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) agreement and other human rights legislation.
However, it remains uncertain whether women will be properly represented in the new Parliament after 2014.
Michael Sergel and Finian Scott are Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalists at AUT University. They are covering the Pacific politics forum for Pacific Scoop and the Pacific Media Centre as an Asia-Pacific Journalism assignment.