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Small role for women

Nasik Swami
Saturday, February 01, 2014

PACIFIC Island countries have consistently produced the lowest number of women in governance in the world.

And a group of Pacific women parliamentarians, former parliamentarians, policy makers and civil society groups are meeting in Nadi to advance women's political participation in the region.

The meeting, organised by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and Fiji Women's Rights Movement, involve the participation of 20 women from the Pacific Islands.

A statement issued yesterday said in the islands that comprise the Pacific Islands Forum — minus Australia and New Zealand — only 4.7 per cent of people in governance were women.

"If the 13 women elected in the 2006 Fiji election are not included, the figure drops even lower to 2.6 per cent for the remaining islands," the statement said.

It said the 20 women from seven participating islands had come together to address the low levels of participation and share approaches to leadership that prioritise consensus-building, accountability and solidarity.

Participant Mere Samisoni said the adversarial model of government was a barrier to the participation of women.

The participants discussed the need to promote gender equality across all portfolios of government.

"Right now the world faces a critical juncture — rising and deepening — inequalities of wealth and resources between countries and between rich and poor, combined with the fact that the world is now exceeding safe planetary boundaries require new forms of leadership and of development," said Anne Pakoa, Vanuatu's first ever female presidential candidate.

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