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'Acting for change’

19 July 2022

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Optimistic about the future

Tuesday 8 March 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Optimistic about the future
In celebration of International Women’s Day, CINCW president Vaine Wichman (front left) and executive member Nga Teao-Papatua (front right) with Tereora College female prefects who attended an orientation session at the Parliament. PHOTO: Melina Etches/ 22030711

Cook Islands National Council of Women president, Vaine Wichman says celebrating the achievements of our women through International Women’s Day, which will be marked here today, makes her more optimistic about the future.

“Because it’s no longer just women voices asking for more women voices, it’s also women and men together asking for the same rights for women in our country, and that’s important to me, because that’s never happened to us.

“The achievements of the past are great, but it would be greater if we can hear both sexes saying the same thing,” Wichman said.

The Council annually spearheads the International Women’s Day celebration in commemoration of women’s achievements by organising activities that “progress women’s efforts to eliminate discrimination and disparities against women and their families”.

In line with the international theme of “gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, Council executive have partnered with the Cook Islands Parliament Services to stage a Youth Parliament, that will take place today.

The long-term aim is to encourage more of our young women and men to take up the challenge of leading on the main political and leadership tables in the country, like the Island Council and the House of Parliament, said Wichman.

Tereora College prefect Heinarii Law Tauira at the orientation session at Cook Islands Parliament. PHOTO: Melina Etches/ 22030705

She encourages the youth “to absorb the experience and feel the weight of responsibility each Member of Parliament must carry when progressing legal bills for the country”.

“The youth are our future… more optimism for our country,” she added.
Yesterday students selected from Rarotonga and Pa Enua colleges attended an orientation session ahead of today’s “Mock Parliament”.

Tereora College head girl Sarah Napa said: “This (yesterday) morning was a very thrilling experience, very interesting and a very different environment for us the students, stepping from school into this Parliament setting of government and politics.”

“It’s all so fascinating and I’m hoping that in the future I’ll be looking at future MPs of the Cook Islands from our prefects – that’s what I’m hoping for. I myself like to see what happens with our government so I’m very interested in Parliament and it’s roles and procedures are.”

Tereora College Head Girl Sarah Napa poses in the seat of the Speaker of the House. PHOTO: Melina Etches/22030712

Today’s mock sitting will include the normal order of the day matters, question time and the tabling of an amendment to the Covid-19 Amendment Bill of last year.

The opportunity for the youth to debate this amendment will provide a hands-on experience in understanding the processes and procedures in chamber of debate and bill readings.

The concept of a “Mock Parliament for Women” was initiated by Nellie Letitia Mooney-McClung, a Canadian author and social activist, in 1914.

The first ever Mock Parliament for Women in the Cook Islands took place in March, 2015, since then these “practice parliaments” have been held every year.

Also, this evening a sold out event – a special dinner – will be held at the Muri Beach Club Hotel with presentations from five of our very own International Women’s Day speakers.