Change in attitude

THE revelation that Fiji is ready for a female leader will not come as a shock for many people it seems.

With elections looming this year, the latest Tebbutt-Times Poll confirms gender is not an obstacle when it comes to who should be our prime minister.

A resounding 70 per cent of those polled said “yes” to the question of whether Fiji was ready for a female PM and this was across genders, ethnicities, age groups, geographic divisions, and in both urban and rural locations.

The most popular choice for a prospective female PM was Rewa chief and Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa who received 49 per cent support.

The poll did not have a list of selected candidates, those polled were instead given the freedom to name the female they thought was most suitable or qualified for the position.
It actually places Ro Teimumu on quite a high pedestal.

SODELPA provisional candidate Lynda Tabuya was the second choice with 14 per cent while the Minister for Health in the FijiFirst-led Government, Rosy Akbar, was third with 13 per cent support.

NFP provisional candidate Lenora Qereqeretabua placed fourth at 8 per cent followed by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in the FijiFirst Government Mereseini Vuniwaqa at 4 per cent.

SODELPA parliamentarian Dr Mere Samisoni, NFP provisional candidate Riddhi Damodar and FijiFirst parliamentarian Lorna Eden received 1 per cent support each respectively.

The revelation is interesting. It places equal attention across political parties and comes at a time when interest appears to be focused on prominent men at the helm of politics.

Overall, 15 per cent said Fiji was not ready for a female leader, while 8 per cent were unsure and 1 per cent declined to answer.

Interestingly males were more likely to reply that Fiji was not ready (18 per cent) than females (12 per cent).

As University of the South Pacific Professor Vijay Naidu said, a massive change in attitude regarding women’s capabilities has made many Fijians receptive to the idea of having a female PM.

Prof Naidu believes the result was a refreshingly surprising one as respondents indicated across gender and ethnicity that they were perfectly comfortable with a woman as the next national political leader.

It is surprising, he said, as Fiji continued to be male dominated in many spheres of our society, including in the Parliament.

The result, he said, reflected a massive change in attitudes regarding women’s capabilities, and was reflective of our own women leaders especially in politics, but also by the fact that in recent years there had been a number of very effective women ministers and PMs in other countries of the world.

The results are important for women in the country and places them on a high plane.

The challenge though is for our women to embrace this change in attitude and mind-set, and take that massive step forward to live their dreams.

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