Skip to main content

35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

22 September 2020

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

NEW RESEARCH: Government Boards don't Give Women a fair go

FWRM_logo.png

NEW RESEARCH: Government Boards don't Give Women a fair go

22/09/20

New research by the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement published today revealed a stark underrepresentation of women on governance boards in Fiji.

The research on gender diversity and equality on boards looked at 192 board members across 38 government-controlled organisations, Stated Owned Enterprises (SOEs), commercial, non-commercial, and corporate entities with Boards. The purpose of the research was to determine the level of women’s representation or membership in the boards of the 38 entities.

The research found that women comprise only 21 per cent of all Board members. A very concerning finding from the research is that 42 per cent of Fiji Boards have no women at all and 26 per cent have less than one-third female participation.

“Women’s participation in decision-making is fundamental to improving gender equality but despite making up half of the population, representation at all levels of leadership for women is severely lacking,” said the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.

The research also identified challenges that limit the participation of women in Fiji’s leadership, such as the lack of diversity and opportunity for women to hold the position of board chair. Women hold only 18 per cent of Board Chair positions and sometimes it is the same women appointed to Board Chair in multiple organisations. Additionally, in many cases, the same people are on multiple Boards. This curtails the opportunities for others to join, contribute and gain Board experience.

“Ensuring that women are better represented on boards is important to dismantle patriarchal ideals that are heavily entrenched into our society and limit women’s participation in decision-making. It is disturbing that some Boards appear to be firmly idiosyncratic, patriarchal, and privileging certain groups,” said FWRM.

As highlighted in the research, improving gender equality in the workplace is a goal for the government, targeting 30 per cent women in all forms of decision-making by 2020 as part of its commitments to the UN 1995 Beijing Platform of Action. Fiji has also ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and committed to the Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality, to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at “all” levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.

“The Government must address these commitments to increase women on Fiji’s boards and decision-making at all levels. This is crucial now more than ever, as women face disproportionate amounts of discrimination and inequality across almost all sectors of society from health, justice, education and the world of work. Improving women’s representation in leadership is a huge step forwards to address these inequalities and there must be a political will to do this,” said the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.

“There is strong evidence that a gender-equal and diverse governance board improves accountability and diversifies the expertise, knowledge and skills available. Lack of diversity diminishes the productivity, talent, responsiveness and crucial insights that could have been contributed. ”

FWRM also highlighted the importance of accountability and recommended that websites and audited accounts of all Government entities and Boards be properly updated and publicly available.

The research stated that the lack of data and updated information on Board members, lack of audited accounts amongst other information on such entities, and poorly updated websites, in non-compliance with legal requirements is worrisome, especially in light of recent legislation which demands that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the not-for-profit sector, provide audited accounts, information about their Boards, and all relevant data.

The troubling findings are not reflective of Fiji’s international commitments and its progress in promoting human rights. FWRM reiterates the urgent need to improve women’s meaningful representation in leadership and for Government to increase diversity within their Governance Boards.

FWRM will be releasing a statement on diversity on governance boards in the next few days. The full paper of 9 pages is available on our website and Facebook page (@fwrm).

END

Link to the report: http://www.fwrm.org.fj/images//fwrm2017/PDFs/research/FWRM_Gender_Diversity_Incl_GoF_Boards-Final_.pdf

For more information please contact Communications Officer Maryann Lockington on email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mobile (+679) 8677330