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CIVICUS World Assembly: Women's participation regressing

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Update: 11:46AM WOMENS participation in economics and politics has decreased in recent years and the former head of the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark points to a rock and a hard place reasoning.

The former Prime Minister of New Zealand who is in the country as part of the International Civil Society Week said the Pacific itself had some of the worst rates in women's leadership.

Speaking to the media yesterday and today at the CIVICUS World Assembly currently taking place in Laucala in Suva, Ms Clark called for a fresh global push on gender injustice.

She said part of the reason for the regression was because for too long, there were far too few women leaders pushing for more womens representation.

In the end, the numbers were just not enough for the push back on gender parity, she explained.

"The Pacific is one of the worst region in terms of women's representation. In the latest elections in Papua New Guinea, not one woman was elected," Ms Clark said.

Calling for electoral gender quotas, she said there were practical solutions available to improve gender parity and she quoted Rwanda which has a 64 percent women's representation in parliament  as case study to follow.

"There are practical things you can do abiout this and not enough is being done. We have to keep fighting. Never give up, there will be set backs, huge setbacks. You cant just accept it, you have to keep fighting," the former NZ PM said,

"There will be regressions, you have to keep fighting. In the long term you will see substantial returns. Keep on fighting."

In Fiji, the National Council of Women agree and its general secretary Fay Volatabu said political parties needed to be more supportive.

"In areas of political participation in Fiji we now have 8 MPs out of the 50 in government that is 16 percent as opposed to the11.3 percent  (8/71 )in 2006, Most women are involved in child rearing and this sometimes affect their participation in politics," Ms Volatabu said.

"Much has been done in the way of civic education but political parties need to be more supportive of getting equal numbers of candidates in their parties and giving them positions of responsibility. In a nutshell NO! Women have not progressed at all!

The NCWF said that while mind sets have changed and some men were willing to allow women concessions, women still needed to fight for the space in the corporate world, village meetings, and employer's federation.

"There is a need for more women to help each other out, support each other in business, politics or whatever other women are involved in."

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