August 17, 2016 7:54 am

Women’s parliament offers unique opportunity to women

In an effort to provide more options to Fiji’s aspiring women leaders, a total of fifty women from various backgrounds across Fiji gathered yesterday to be part of Fiji’s inaugural Women’s Parliament Fiji. While officially opening the Women’s Parliament Fiji Event, Speaker of Parliament Doctor Jiko Luveni said the week-long event was to help women learn […]

In an effort to provide more options to Fiji’s aspiring women leaders, a total of fifty women from various backgrounds across Fiji gathered yesterday to be part of Fiji’s inaugural Women’s Parliament Fiji.

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2016 Women’s Parliament participants at the opening ceremony yesterday morning. (Parliament of Republic of Fiji)

While officially opening the Women’s Parliament Fiji Event, Speaker of Parliament Doctor Jiko Luveni said the week-long event was to help women learn about the workings of parliament.

LUVENI: “The hosting of such an event offers a unique opportunity to Fiji’s aspiring women leaders to learn about parliament, get briefed on important development issues, and build their policy skills. This event also confirms the commitment of the Fiji Parliament to promote the participation of women in politics.”

The initiative is organized by the Fijian Parliament in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is supported by the European Union and the Governments of New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.

The 50 women participating in the 2016 Women’s Parliament Fiji were selected by a Steering Committee made up of representatives from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, National Council of Women and Office of Secretary General of the Fijian Parliament.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Osnat Lubrani, said the UNDP was grateful to be part of the initiative.

LUBRANI: “UNDP is proud to be supporting the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji this week to facilitate the Women’s Parliament Fiji, as part of our ongoing work in the region and globally on promoting women’s leadership and political participation at the highest decision making levels.”

Head of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Ambassador Andrew Jacobs said parliament played a pivotal role in ensuring sustainable and equitable development.

JACOBS: “Parliament has a fundamental role to play in ensuring sustainable and equitable development. Women parliamentarians are needed to ensure that the needs and interests of all parts of the population are represented”.

Development Cooperation, Fiji and Tuvalu Counselor Christina Munzer said the Australian Government supported the initiative.

MUNZER: “The Australian Government is proud to support this important initiative in partnership with Fiji Parliament, UNDP and donor partners. The Fiji Women Practice Parliament will help to further advance women in political and decision making spheres. I wish all the participants success.”

The idea of a Practice Parliament for women was first proposed in 2010 at a Pacific Islands Forum Small Island States Meeting on Advancing Women’s Participation in Decision-Making Processes.

Practice Parliaments are designed to fill some of the gaps in the existing efforts to support women’s political participation by developing a broader set of skills and by giving women participants the opportunity to immediately apply those skills.

The Women’s Parliament ends tomorrow, 18 August 2016.