TONGA – Tonga is sitting well behind the international benchmark that the country has agreed to for women’s representation in parliament.
The director of Tonga’s Women and Children Crisis Centre said it is a good time to take stock of the fact that less than seven per cent of MP’s are women. ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki said Tonga has agreed to the UN target of a minimum 30 per cent.
She said the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, Press for Progress, is a call to keep pushing for legislative change that will increase the representation of women from the current two female MPs.
She said some of Tonga’s neighbours, like Samoa have set good examples. “They’ve made a constitutional amendment allowing for five floating seats to be activated at any time where there are less than five women elected through the general election process.”
Guttenbeil-Likiliki said Vanuatu has also introduced women’s seats at the municipal level.
Beetle threatens economy
SOLOMON ISLANDS – A disease-resistant variety of rhinoceros beetle is threatening the Solomon Islands’ US$38 million coconut and palm oil industry exports. The two industries make up a significant share of the country’s export earnings.
The Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response Programme co-ordinator Bob Macfarlane is organising a taskforce meeting this week aimed at combatting the noxious pest.
He said the beetle was different from the variety which devastated half of the coconut palms in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in the early 1900s. He said the Solomons variety was also resistant to the viral disease used to successfully combat that type.
“We’re trying to identify where this strain has come from and then go there and see if we can find a disease or similar virus disease which is being effective there.”
Macfarlane said until a new biological agent could be found the focus would be on preventing the spread of the beetle, including incinerating all affected trees.
Labour mobility summit held
VANUATU – Vanuatu is hosting its first ever Labour Mobility Summit. The Port Vila gathering is expected to host around 500 participants from government departments and line agencies, NGOs and the general public.
Representatives from the Australia and New Zealand labour markets where ni-Vanuatu workers are employed are expected to attend.
Government officials from the countries are also in attendance.
A Vanuatu government release about the summit said a significant increase in labour mobility opportunities for its citizens was imminent.
The summit aims to chart a “way forward” to ensure that benefits of labour mobility for both sending and receiving countries is sustained and maximised.
One of the scheduled presentations by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Agriculture will seek out solutions to the loss of agricultural skills and manpower in the country caused by labour mobility.