Historic recognition for women in Parliament

THE possible inclusion of nine women in the new parliament is a historic occasion in Fiji’s political arena.

This is the first time that more than five women will be represented in both sides of the bench.

At the forefront of the women representatives of parliament is SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa who is FijiFirst party leader Voreqe Bainimarama’s closest rival.

Ro Teimumu re-enters parliament alongside SODELPA candidates Vane Koroi Seruvakula and Mere Samisoni.

Also staking a claim in this year’s 50-seat parliament are FijiFirst candidates Jiko Luveni, Lorna Eden, Rosy Sofia Akbar, Mereseini Vuniwaqa and Veena Bhatnagar.

The ninth woman that is also likely to claim a seat is National Federation Party president Tupou Draunidalo whose mother, the late Adi Kuini Speed, was a former parliamentarian.

FemLINK Pacific executive director Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls said despite the shortened campaign period given to political parties and their women candidates, there was a positive outcome for representation of women in parliament.

“Looking at the potential line-up of women in parliament, the nine women that will be in parliament is about less than 20 per cent of the total number of seats,” she said.

“This is still 10 per cent less than the required 30 per cent of seats for women in parliament however this is an important restart because we now have recognised women representation in parliament and on both sides of the forum.”

She said for FemLINK Pacific, it was important that there was continued strengthening of women’s access to politics from the local to national level.

“So I think it’s important to bridge that gap between our women on the grassroots level and those in parliament.

“So I hope that with the inclusion of these women in these important positions, we will be able to close that gap.

“I also hope that there will be continued engagement between political parties to encourage women to join politics so that in future parliaments there will be more women representation.”

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