WOMEN in the north have skills and the potential to become national leaders, says UN Women deputy regional program manager for Gender Equality in Political Governance Program Jeanette Bolenga.
Ms Bolenga made the comment at the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) workshop in Labasa on Tuesday.
She said Fiji should shun the selection of women with chiefly status being elected as leaders and give chances to ordinary women to be part of the new government.
“It takes active awareness training and workshops to groom and shape these women to allow them to be part of the upcoming election,” Ms Bolenga said.
“With women’s participation in parliament, there will be fair-decision making and women’s voices will be heard.”
Ms Bolenga said women who were interested in participating at the upcoming election would go through the same electoral process, where they would stand to represent a constituency.
“At the moment government is in the consultation period with various groups regarding the 2014 elections, this is a good time for groups like ours to use the opportunity to empower women and encourage them to take part in the elections,” she said.
“The Pacific region is slowly changing its attitude on gender equality and this workshop includes both men and women so they have a better understanding about the electoral process.”
Participant, Ro Aca Mataitini said it was only fair that women in the north were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and issues in village, district and provincial meetings.
“This is a platform to train women to become future leaders,” Ro Aca said.
“I believe men should be part of this workshop so they know the potential these women have,” he said.