Joint Statement: Women's Issues in the Leadup to 2006 Elections
The Fiji Women's Rights Movement (FWRM) and Womens Action for Change (WAC) are extremely concerned at the lack of media coverage on women's issues in the leadup to the 2006 elections and urgently call on political parties and the media to focus on women and children before the end of the week.
Both organisations are appalled at the apparent invisibility of half of the population of the country. With much emphasis on the politics of race and who should become Prime Minister, substantive issues have not been discussed. Specifically, the recent media coverage has neglected to adequately address:
- Violence against women
- Enabling Legislation for women and children
- Women and decision-making
WAC Coordinator Noelene Nabulivou says, "It is very disturbing that not one of the 12 questions directed at political parties in the national election supplement concerned violence against women.
"Also, the talkback shows on radio and television have not held one single session specifically on women's concerns, much less taken questions from the public on women-specific issues in the midst of such saturated national coverage.
"Things will not get better for women and children in Fiji until women's needs are recognised as critical and urgent election issues."
Additionally, political parties manifestos demonstrate a clear lack of awareness of gender issues as crucial to development of the country.
FWRM Executive Director Virisila Buadromo says, "FWRM has conducted a survey over the past month asking political parties about their stances in regard to the above issues as well as women and the economy, HIV/AIDS, and women and the law, amongst others. The results of this Women Ask survey will be inserted in the newspaper on Saturday 6 May and I urge all voters to remember the results of the survey when they cast their votes."
In these last few days before the polls, FWRM and WAC urgently call on political parties and the media to ensure that the concerns of half of the population of Fiji are adequately raised, and for women to ensure that their voices are heard by politicians. We also call on women in Fiji to use their votes wisely. Read the manifestos and ask your politicians exactly what they are doing for women and children, and how they will ensure that socio-economic conditions for women and children in Fiji improve over the next five years.