Women Forum hails Samoa’s example

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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WOMEN LEADERS: Lebeka Amato-Perez of Tokelau, Munokoa Poto Williams of New Zealand, Va’aiga Tukuitonga of Niue and Francesca Semoso of Bougainville.

WOMEN LEADERS: Lebeka Amato-Perez of Tokelau, Munokoa Poto Williams of New Zealand, Va’aiga Tukuitonga of Niue and Francesca Semoso of Bougainville.

Women Parliamentarians from the Pacific region in Samoa have hailed Samoa’s leadership role in empowering women – especially in terms of politics.

The widespread praise for Samoa’s groundbreaking initiatives – including the Constitutional amendment to ensure 10 per cent of members of Parliament are women – comes as the 4th Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnership (P.W.P.P) Forum ends. 

Attended by more than 60 Parliamentarians, the meeting wrapped up last night with closing dinner in Apia.

During a press conference yesterday, Munokoa Poto Williams, a Member of Parliament for the New Zealand’s Labour Party, said there is much to celebrate.

Although she conceded that some Pacific countries still have a long way to go in terms of achieving gender equality, she said meetings such as the P.W.P.P are important to gauge progress.

 “With regards with some tangible results we find that there is a real value for Pacific women members of Parliament to meet each year and to support one another with the discussions of these issues,” she said. 

 “The tangible results are the increasing number of women Parliamentarians in the Pacific region and notably we have also been able to grow the base of women across the different Parliaments.”

Ms. Williams pointed to Samoa’s temporary special measures to increase the number of women Parliamentarians. On top of that, Samoa having its first female Deputy Prime Minister in the form of Fiame Naomi Mata’afa is something to be proud of.

“Samoa also has the added bonus, something that we are really proud of on your behalf, is having a woman deputy Prime Minister,” she said.

“We understand that it was the absolute leadership of your Prime Minister that put those measures in place but we still feel it is a huge success.”

Elsewhere, Ms. Williams also hailed the appointment of Hilda Haine as the President of Marshall Islands.

These, she said, are achievements worth celebrating.

Looking into the future though, Ms. Williams said there is still some work to do.

 “All of our governments have signed up to the gender equity platform so we know that all of our governments are very hopeful that our outcomes from here will be able to be put in place,” Ms. Williams said.

“So today has been about deciding what those outcomes are so we’ve put that outcome statement together and this afternoon will be more about discussing some of the issues that are part of the forum agenda, namely climate change.”

Ms. Williams also praised Samoa’s hospitality in hosting the Forum.

“It’s been one of the best attended forums and that is probably partly because most of us wanted to be here to celebrate Samoa with their recent elections and the great results that the temporary special measures have provided,” she said.

The Forum, which is an initiative by the Australian government, has been running for four years.

It is designed to get women together to talk about three key issues which are:

• Women’s representation in the house of parliament of which the pacific region has somewhere to go to make sure they have 50% representation of women.

• Family/domestic violence which is a concern across the entire pacific region.

• The economic empowerment of women so that they can participate equally in the economic financial sense of their countries.

The meeting was opened by the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, on Monday.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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