5 Sep 2017

Women's seats in Tonga Parliament shelved by early vote

6:45 am on 5 September 2017
'Emeline Siale 'Ilolahia

Executive Director of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, 'Emeline Siale 'Ilolahia. Photo: RNZ/Koro Vaka'uta

The Civil Society Forum of Tonga says the early elections resulting from last month's royal dissolution of parliament has curtailed efforts to introduce a parliamentary quota for women.

Its Executive Director, 'Emeline 'Ilolahia, had been part of a group encouraging women to stand in both local and national elections and has lobbied for greater representation in parliament.

Ms 'Ilolahia said last month a coalition of women had presented to Cabinet a proposal for Temporary Special Measures which would enable four seats to be created and set aside for women.

She said now elections have to be held by November 16 instead of next year, as originally planned, that proposal had been shelved.

She said the measures are needed.

"A lot of our community are really run by women. In terms of their economic development, in terms of projects, in terms of a lot of other things, they are really the ones that are in the machinery."

"If we could help them move with that into a national level and if Tonga had to seriously consider that they value their contribution, then we have to give them a chance," she said.

'Emeline 'Ilolahia said women's advocates were meeting this week to map out a plan for the campaign.