Fiame's victory, an inspiration: Fiji Women's Forum

Fiame Naomi Mataafa becoming Samoa's first female Prime Minister is an inspiration to all female politicians, says Suva-based women's umbrella organisation Fiji Women's Forum.

The organisation, which comprises National Council of Women Fiji, Soqosoqo Vakamarama i-Taukei, Fiji Women's Rights Movement and FemLINKPACIFIC, issued a statement 23 July congratulating Samoa's new Prime Minister. 

“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 statement reads.

“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.

“[Fiame] 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.”

According to Fiji Women’s Forum, Samoa became the first country in the Pacific to legislate to reserved seats for women to promote gender balance in national legislature.

“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,” the statement reads.

“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 statement also emphasised that Fiame's victory in 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,” the statement reads.

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

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