22 Oct 2010

Tonga's election candidates told land reform vital to lifting status of women

10:05 am on 22 October 2010

Tonga's Women's and Children's Crisis Centre, says politicians lining up for next month's election need to change their views on the status of women.

At a recent forum, many candidates claimed there's no need for Tonga to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, or to make changes to allow women to own land.

The Crisis Centre's director, Ofa ki-Levuka Guttenbeil Likiliki says many male candidates spout myths about women being content with the status quo on land.

Ms Guttenbeil Likiliki says the status of women in Tonga has slipped in the past fifteen years and this can only be reversed if they are economically empowered.

She says the key is reforming the Land Act.

"When you invest in women you're investing in families and when you're investing in families you're investing in communities and when you're investing in communities you're investing in an entire nation. So absolutely, it seem so basic maths to me but it something that we are going to continue to push here at the Crisis Centre. We believe that everything is so interlinked and it is so critical that we look at it that way."