11 Jul 2016

Tongan women pioneers will face pressure

10:28 am on 11 July 2016

There is huge pressure on two Tongan women recently elected to local government to succeed according to the director for the Civil Society Forum in Tonga.

Sisifa Fili

Tonga's first woman district officer, Sisifa Fili. Photo: Legislative Assembly

During the recent local body elections Sisifa Fili became the first ever woman District Officer, overseeing the affairs of six villages, and Vika Kaufusi became a Town Officer.

Women's advocates are hoping their success will encourage women to stand in the 2018 national elections.

There are currently no women MPs in parliament and there have only ever been five.

While Siale 'Ilolahia congratulates Ms Fili and Ms Kaufusi, she said they would face immense pressure as pioneers for women.

"The kind of pressure that you don't really have it written down on paper but you know that it's floating. It's there."

"Because this is something that has never been, it is a part of our history, everybody will be looking at how they do things. Some of us will be looking at them with hope that they will succeed and some of us are looking at them, when are they going to fall down."

Siale 'Ilolahia said her group would offer as much support as possible and she hopes the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Women's Division will continue with workshops aimed at equipping women for politics.