17th February, 2014
The Speaker of the Tongan parliament, Lord Fakafanua today launched a program, the Practice Parliament for Women. The program aims at encouraging women to enter parliament.
Lord Fakafanua announced the initiative this morning, and launched a nationwide public awareness program to encourage interested women, from age 21 upward to apply for a seat in the 30 seats, Practice Parliament for Women. Two seats would be set aside for youths and and the disabilities.
Lord Fakafanua said the objective of the exercise is to have more women representatives in parliament. “It is part of our efforts to build a modern and more representaive parliament for Tonga,” said the Speaker.
He said this is an opportunity for Tongan women to demonstrate their talent, knowledge and potential capacity while empowering them to have their voices be heard and to vote for themselves in the upcoming 2014 General Election in November.
Tonga’s first Practice Parliament for Women will be held on April 10-11 hosted by the Legislative Assembly of Tonga in Nuku’alofa.
A television and radio program will be held this month to generate public interest in Practice Parliament for Women, to be followed by public awareness meetings to be held throughout Tongatapu in specific locations to be announced.
Interested candidates are to fill an application form by 21 March, and those successful are expected to undergo training and mentoring programs with current MPs and former women MPs on April 7-9. The two-day sitting is to be broadcasted live on April 10-11.
The program is organised in conjunction with the UNDP Tonga Governance Strengthening Program, Australian Aid, the Inter-Parliametnary Union, UN Women and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat . Local counterparts includes the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, Tonga Electoral Commission, Civil Society Forum of Tonga and Non-Government Organizations.
Tonga currently has only one woman in parliament, the Minister for Education and Training Hon. Dr ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki.