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Pacific women MPs hail Samoa’s lead

Monday 11 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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SAMOA – Women Parliamentarians from the Pacific region have hailed Samoa’s leadership role in empowering women – especially in terms of politics.

The widespread praise for Samoa’s ground-breaking initiatives – including the Constitutional amendment to ensure 10 per cent of members of parliament are women – was voiced as the 4th Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnership (PWPP) Forum came to a conclusion on Friday.

During a press conference, Munokoa Poto Williams, a member of parliament for the New Zealand’s Labour Party, said there was much to celebrate.

Although she conceded that some Pacific countries still have a long way to go in terms of achieving gender equality, she said meetings such as the PWPP are important to gauge progress.

“We find that there is a real value for Pacific women members of parliament to meet each year and to support one another with the discussions of these issues,” she said.

“The tangible results are the increasing number of women parliamentarians in the Pacific region and notably we have also been able to grow the base of women across the different parliaments.”

Williams mentioned Samoa’s temporary special measures to increase the number of women parliamentarians. On top of that, Samoa has also appointed its first female deputy prime minister in the form of Fiame Naomi Mata’af, which is something to be proud of, she said.

“Samoa also has the added bonus, something that we are really proud of on your behalf, is having a woman deputy prime minister,” she said.

“We understand that it was the absolute leadership of your prime minister that put those measures in place but we still feel it is a huge success.”

Elsewhere, Williams also hailed the appointment of Hilda Haine as the president of Marshall Islands.

These, she said, are achievements worth celebrating.

Looking into the future though, Williams said there is still some work to do.

“All of our governments have signed up to the gender equity platform so we know that all of our governments are very hopeful that our outcomes from here will be able to be put in place.

Williams also praised Samoa’s hospitality in hosting the Forum.

“It’s been one of the best attended forums and that is probably partly because most of us wanted to be here to celebrate Samoa with their recent elections and the great results that the temporary special measures have provided,” she said.

The forum, which is an initiative by the Australian government, has been running for four years.

It is designed to get women together to talk about three key issues which are:

- Women’s representation in the house of parliament of which the pacific region has somewhere to go to make sure they have 50% representation of women.

- Family and domestic violence which is a concern across the entire pacific region.

- The economic empowerment of women so that they can participate equally in the economic financial sense of their countries.

- Samoa Observer