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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

23 May 2021

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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Fiji Women's Forum Press Release: New Dawn of Women’s Leadership in the Pacific 23/05/2021

Fiji Women's Forum Press Release: New Dawn of Women’s Leadership in the Pacific

23/05/2021

The Fiji Women’s Forum extends its well wishes to the people of Samoa as it prepares to usher in its first female Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.

The Forum warmly congratulates Mata’afa who is no stranger to women’s leadership in the Pacific having served as Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister recently and held a few ministerial portfolios in the Samoan Government as well. 

Mata’afa is a strong advocate for women’s development and participation in politics and one of Samoa’s first female members of Parliament. She is also a fierce defender of the parliamentary gender quota that assures more women representation in the Samoan Parliament. In 2016, Samoa became the first country in the Pacific to legislate reserved seats for women (10 per cent) to promote gender balance in national legislatures. According to data compiled by Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, women’s political participation currently comprises around 8.2 per cent in the Pacific, compared to a global average of around 24.3 per cent in the Lower House of Representatives.

The Fiji Women’s Forum believes that the full representation of women at all levels of decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy and enforcing quotas in leadership roles for women can help to ensure that women’s perspectives are sufficiently represented in society.  

However, quotas work only when there are safeguards to ensure that the women placed in these positions represent a wide cross-section of women. 

The validation of Mata'afa's victory by the Supreme Court and her leadership of her new party, against a decades-long incumbent Government, is inspirational and paves the way for all female politicians, and young women with political aspirations in the Pacific region. The Forum is hopeful that more women will be encouraged to persist and engage in the political process and in decision making spaces within their own

governments. Increasing women’s participation in politics and securing their access to political life is of particular importance to democratic development and sustainability.

The Fiji Women’s Forum has been engaging since 2012 towards Fiji’s democratisation process. The Fiji Women’s Forum is co-convened by femLINKpacific, Soqosoqo Vakamarama i-Taukei and Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.

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