NZ women MP's mentor Pacific counterparts
Women MPs from New Zealand are helping boost women's representation in the Pacific through a new mentoring programme.
Women MPs from New Zealand are helping their counterparts in the Pacific to operate better in their own parliaments.
They're taking part in a new mentoring programme which it's hoped will boost women's voices in the region's legislatures.
Sally Round reports.
Women MPs from Niue, Samoa, Tuvalu and an aspiring politician from Tonga gathered in Wellington last week to meet their mentors and learn more skills and strategies for working in parliament. New Zealand Labour Party MP Sue Moroney is one of the mentors on the programme run by the Pacific Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians group.
SUE MORONEY: We took a decision that we need to look after our own neighbourhood first and we're deeply disturbed by the lack of representation of women in parliaments across the Pacific.
The Pacific is bottom of the world rankings on women's representation rates. Fifteen point seven percent of the regions parliaments are made up of women compared to around 25 percent in the Americas and Europe and 41 percent in the Nordic countries. So few women MPs severely limits internal support networks and it's hoped the link with New Zealand MPs will help. Sue Moroney will act as mentor to the leader of the Opposition in Fiji Ro Teimumu Kepa.
SUE MORONEY: It is going to be quite personal so we know each other, we can email, we can skype, we can pick up a phone maybe and talk to each other and we will have that level of relationship in place.
Faaulusau Rosa Duffy-Stowers who'll be mentored by Louisa Wall is new to Samoa's fono. She was elected under new rules which require at least 10 percent of seats go to women. The ruling HRPP party's massive 94 percent majority means some party members like her are being asked to take on the role of the opposition so she's looking forward to help with debating and scrutinising bills.
FAAULUSAU ROSA DUFFY-STOWERS: We will have to question our own party so it seems and we want to be as effective as we possibly can. You know scrutinising the government in all levels and in all areas.
Jilila Kumar who is new to Fiji's parliament has Ria Bond as her mentor.
JILILA KUMAR: Sometimes I'm reluctant especially to speak during the debates and sometimes I don't really understand how parliament works and so forth. But now it really gives me the knowledge the know how the confidence of what to do as an effective parliamentarian.
Va'ainga Tukuitonga could be a mentor herself -- she's been in Niue's parliament for 17 years.
VA'AINGA TUKUITONGA: Coming here is just to be with the women, to give them some more information, just sharing with them what I've been through. Most of the ones who are here with us they are young and the issues are shared by the other women are so different from where I come from.
She says women MP numbers have been reducing in Niue because there are higher paying jobs in the civil service and there's a lack of motivation among women. Fiji's Ro Teimumu Kepa says it's been inspiring to see another parliament in action.
RO TEIMUMU KEPA: We are very much a work in progress and we hope that we will be able to take back to our countries the mentoring programme. We are looking at bringing in promising young women to be part of the parliamentary process like they have here in New Zealand.
Sipola Fakaanga Havili failed to gain a seat in Tonga's parliament at the 2014 election leaving the parliament all male. She says there's been little support for aspiring women like her since.
SIPOLA FALAANGA HAVILI: What is the problem, what has caused this? Am I still strong to go in to fight to be able to be the first woman parliamentarian in the Democratic Party? This empowers me to still go on. Forward ever, backward never.
Mrs Havili said she would be drawing on the support of her New Zealand MP mentor, Carmel Sepuloni, to try again.
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