What our parliament needs

The former leader of the opposition Mick Beddoes. Picture: File

FIJI as a nation will move in the right direction when at least 50 per cent of the members of Parliament are young, and 50 per cent are women representation. These were the sentiments shared by the former leader of the opposition Mick Beddoes, who said unfortunately youth representation in Parliament today had been the same for some time.

“We still adopt the approach that our youth and women are ‘token’ attachments to political activity, when in fact they should be mainstream participants,” Mr Beddoes said.

“I also know from my own experience in past elections that getting women and youth to step forward and stand is difficult. “With the youth their priority is to get an education, secure a good paying job, or starting up a business and working to get established first before looking at politics as a career. “For many woman it is the same, but with the added responsibility and obligation they feel towards family and the need to ensure that everything at home is all good before taking that leap.”

He said political parties must create the right supportive environment within their organisations and encourage youths and women to engage. “But not necessarily as a member of a youth or women’s wing, but as a direct participant in the decision making process.

“After all the young people make up the majority of voters, yet their representation in leadership roles within political parties and society generally is virtually non-existent.”

Mr Beddoes added he had the privilege of working with the country’s youths close up over many years and particularly so over the past four years.

“I can say with certainty that they are far more politically savvy then we give them credit for and given that we live in a digital and connected world with some 500,000 Facebook users in Fiji alone.

“Our young people’s ability to communicate via social media is second nature, while many senior members of political parties struggle to handle the new technology and today many are just mastering the use of email and do not yet have a Facebook page and if they do, they are likely dependent on their children or grandchildren to help them manage.”

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