More Top Stories

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

RUTA MAVE: Women in the Cook Islands need to rise up for their rights

Monday 6 March 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Opinion


RUTA MAVE: Women in the Cook Islands need to rise up for their rights
Apii Nikao teachers celebrate international women's day in 2016. 16030801

Sunday was children day and Wednesday is Women’s Day. When is men’s day? Everyday. Move on, writes Ruta Mave.

Children are one third of our population but all of our future, they are the most valuable resource and best hope for the future. As parents we may not be able to properly prepare the future for our children but we can at least try to prepare our children for the future. The irony is while we believe we are trying to teach our children all about life, it is our children who are teaching us what life is all about.

Children really are a blessing. You never know when you’ll need blood or a spare kidney. Aside from spare parts you have to be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your nursing home. The journey into having children is not often thought through past that wouldn’t it be nice to have a mini me. Then when the day comes and they act just like you did as a child you have your parent smiling to themselves going ‘well played karma well played’.

Children continue to confuse and test your sensibilities. You spend the first two years of their lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next 16 telling them to sit down and shut up. They say silence is golden unless you have a toddler then it’s just suspicious. I don’t know how parents get through the toddler stage when they have more than one. For me I was constantly asking “Explain to me again why I shouldn’t eat my young?”,

What is most scary about children is they are our future that means our future leaders of governments, some in charge of dangerous missiles. They are our future administrators when we are trying to get our phone fixed or make an appointment at the bank. They are the future surgeons for our hip replacements or cataracts. They are also the ones going to be pushing our wheelchair or giving us a bed bath. The thought is too much to comprehend, I think when the time comes I will revert back to my ‘I have toddlers’ takeout order of a café mocha vodka valium latte to go please.

Women’s Day is not to be confused with Mother’s Day. This is not a time to celebrate what label we are but who we are. We are women hear us roar in growing numbers too big to ignore. Helen Reddy led the march not with hatred to men but with love for woman as wise from wisdom born of pain from paying a price but learning from what was gained. She coined the phrase women can do anything, I am strong I am invincible I am woman.

Recognition for Women’s Day is not about flattery of the female form or their place in society as homemakers, caregivers, children bearers – it is understanding the vital link they are to the future of humanity and its existence. Young women are rising up and raising their voices not to shout and drown out our brothers but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back said Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani female education activist and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She paid the price for speaking up for educating women from an assassination attempt no one should have to endure. But it did not break her, it only served to make her stronger and come back with such international support and acknowledgement she won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 years old.

Women in the Cook Islands need to rise up and stand up for their rights. Our community from religious leaders to government keep our vaine in the background, in the kitchen cleaning up the mess made by the men. Our women and children are at risk here and too often as victims are the ones least catered to by the law.

The answer lies in the education of our women, the narrative needs to change to one that empowers and lets them know women can do anything. Women are gaining higher education achievements in many sectors that a groundswell is forming. However, while they are blocked from positions of power, while they are made to be powerless in their own homes through violence and abuse, we will continue to suffer as a nation and community.

Achievement is still within the design and dictation of male parameters and will take some time for females to have the courage to direct the pathways of growth along a female perspective but it will and can come into fruition.

It is fear that drives men to oppress women at home or work because ultimately, they realise a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.