16 Aug 2006

Tonga to consider allowing women to inherit land

3:50 pm on 16 August 2006

A women's group in Tonga is advising the government to move cautiously over land reform.

The Privy Council last week approved a proposal to look at exploring land laws to allow women, where there is no direct male heir, to inherit registered parcels of land.

An official in the Prime Minister's office, Lopeti Senituli, says it would be the most significant amendment ever made to Tonga's land laws.

"Because women have never been able to inherit land as opposed to their brothers. So this is a major historical event.."

Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki of the Tongan Women's Action Group for Change, says women's groups have long pushed for amendments but there are concerns the government's move is to meet the requirements of World Trade Organisation membership.

So we are concerned as women's groups and personally as a women's activist that the government is [seen to be] doing this for the betterment of Tongan people, and not just to attract foreign investors into the country.

Ms Guttenbeil Likiliki says the Government should call nationwide consultations before changing the law.