Women and Government

EXTRACT FROM TALKS AND RULES MATTER by Fay Volatabu, General Secretary for the National Council of Women Fiji (Email: secretary@ncwfiji.org or ncwfgs1@gmail.com) published in
 the Fiji Times.

Fiji is at the crossroads of our democracy and if there was such a time to voice women's issues this would be it. How could this be done more effectively?
  • Maybe there should be a gender perspective in all policies and programmes.
  • Maybe the electoral reform should include the inclusion of women politicians by ensuring at least 30 percent of all parties to field women in popular seats.
  • Maybe there should be more women ministers, more women permanent secretaries and more women
  • diplomats (not as support staff but as ambassadors).
  • Maybe there should be more funds allocated for women in all ministries or at least 30 percent of all positions in leadership in government reserved for women.

If we are to make the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) a reality  we should work to eliminate all prejudice and current practices that hinder the full operation of the principles of the social equality of women.

Fiji has ratified CEDAW and we have reputable leaders who will ensure that all the tenets of CEDAW are realised and truly living up to the ideal that tourism Fiji promotes Fiji Me: FIJI IS ME - and for me that is a Fiji that is women friendly, women focused and is truly a first in ensuring that CEDAW is not just a piece of paper nor a rhetoric but a reality

People have become so self-serving and the social norms and customs are no longer enough to govern our
behaviour and sometimes these are exploited to favour a certain section of community.  For example, the traditional seeking of forgiveness for a wrong done to a woman was accepted for a while in
Fiji until the Domestic Violence Decree came into effect where all forms of violence against women and children are no longer tolerated and anyone engaged in these activities are liable for prosecution.

Through this process, governments will therefore be accountable to the CEDAW committee as they will have both the State and Shadow report (from non state actors) from which to assess the true nature of CEDAW awareness and compliance in a country.

It is therefore the responsibility of the media, of leaders, of the education system, of policy makers to raise
issues of violations to CEDAW. Article 4 of CEDAW states there should be an adoption of Temporary Special Measures (TSM) aimed at accelerating de-facto equality between men and women - this shall not be considered discriminatory and shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved. In essence, this means that everything should be done to ensure women have equal access, numbers, and opportunities in all spheres of life until such equality is reached and this action should not be deemed discriminatory.

The CEDAW interactive benchmark states TSM should be geared towards women's participation in all segments of society:  political, social, cultural or civil arena. It is an essential mechanism, vital to promote the dignity of women and should be directed towards arriving at equilibrium in terms of access, opportunities and benefits between women and men and should be deemed necessary only up to the point that the desired result has already become a reality.


Anonymous said…
I am proposing a "one party state".

Participation is/would be equal and on merit, pure and simple and extremely democratic.

Under a one party state women have the opportunity to rectify inequalities and in all probability due to their hard and diligent work ethic, organizing ability and strong social consciousness, they will hold in their own hands the ability to achieve outcomes in one election cycle not possible maybe for a generation if left to the moribund Westminster multiparty system that has been an utter failure in Fiji since independence.
Out with the Ladies' Annexe! said…
Women must now come through because they have the knowledge, experience and the 'guts' to do so. They are to speak out about what they know transparently and they are to be accountable to the taxpayers of Fiji who remunerate them. They are to be gender neutral and secular in their dealings and if anyone challenges this, they are to take them immediately to task. That is how women will come into the place they deserve and merit.

Full Ambassador/High Commissioner: why not? We have had many from overseas namely Madam Suzanne Blumhardt - who was both! And in 1970 Australia appointed a woman for the first time to Fiji: she had to be specially inducted into Full Membership of The Fiji Club. A ghastly British indigenous and therefore colonial custom had permitted the requirement for this. It applied to Baroness Thatcher At Home when she was condescendingly permitted Full Membership of the London-based Carlton Club: her own Conservative Party's Club which had formerly only allowed 'ladies' to enter the 'Ladies' Annexe'. All this MUST END.

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