THE Fiji Women's Rights Movement is extremely disappointed that a young women's leadership group was not given space by the Fiji Constitution Commission to make an oral submission.
FWRM's Emerging Leaders' Forum Alumni (ELFA) had tried making an appointment with the commission a week prior to their intended day of presentation on Saturday October 13.
However, they were told all presentation slots were booked for the 12th and 13th.
Instead, the group made arrangements to share space with the Youth Assembly of Fiji Islands and Drodrolagi Movement, who had been given thirty minutes.
On Saturday, YAFI and Drodrolagi Movement's presentations took 30 minutes, and the commissioners did not permit ELFA to present their submissions, which FWRM executive director Virisila Buadromo found unacceptable.
"Our monitoring of the constitution submission process for the last month has shown that there have been many individuals and groups who have spoken beyond the time that had been allocated to them. Why were the young women not given a similar chance?" she said.
FWRM is concerned that the commission would not make room for the young women's representatives, particularly since the commission has reported receiving fewer submissions from women and young people.
However, commission member Professor Christina Murray said the Emerging Leaders group was not given an opportunity to make an oral submission because the program was full.
"We had anticipated that many people would wish to make submissions at the last moment and so we decided to manage the last two days of submissions in Suva on an appointment basis," Prof Murray said. The Emerging Leaders group did not have an appointment.
"I must emphasise that, from the point of view of the commission, a written submission carries as much weight as an oral one," she said. "All written submissions are also being put up on the commission website. So, they have not been denied an opportunity to contribute to the process."
Ms Buadromo said the commission needs to pay special attention to marginalised groups who were trying to be heard.