What a leader looks like and the importance of women’s political participation will be the focus on two events run by UN Women in Honiara this week in partnership with VOIS Blong Mere and US Embassy.
Samoa’s Electoral Commissioner Papali’i Malietau Malietoa will take part in both the two-day Empowerment Series and a week-long Transformational Leadership workshop with potential female political candidates. Both events are integral parts of UN Women’s Strongim Mere Project and are made possible with funding from the European Union.
Papali’i Malietau Malietoa’s has been the Electoral Commissioner in Samoa since 2012. A lawyer and legislative drafter by profession, he was the lead drafter on the consistutional amendment to create five floating seats for women in the Samoan Parliament, which will be implemented in the 2016 general election. He and his team have also worked with UN Women to compile a handbook for aspiring candidates.
During the Empowerment Series Papali’i Malietau Malietoa will take part in a series of dialogues with university and high school students, the media and stakeholders about better practices in order to promote women’s political participation, as well as the importance of women’s role in leadership. He will also speak to the participants of the Transformational Leadership workshop on a similar theme.
The Empowerment Series aims to demonstrate women’s leadership and alter society’s perceptions of what a leader looks like. It looks to promote the development of informal networks among women interested in political participation and also encourages men to share their experiences – as well as why they believe women’s political participation is critical to their country’s development – with youth, the general public and the media.
The Solomon Islands event is the second in the series to be held in the Pacific, the first was held last week in Tonga, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships (PWPP) Forum.
Thirty Tongan women benefited from the experiences of other female parliamentarians from around the Pacific including Samoa’s Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Censorship, the Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, former Australian Speaker Anna Burke and Tonga’s Deputy Speaker, Lord Tu’iha’ateiho.
Audrey Micah Manu, UN Women’s programme coordinator for the Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific (AGJP) Programme, said the series is an example of regional cooperation on women’s political participation.
“Using both women leaders and male allies for this series shows audiences that gender equality and women’s empowerment in political participation are not just issues of concern for women. They are development issues and, most importantly, human rights issues.
“We are especially lucky to have Papali’i join us in Solomon Islands. Samoa has led the way on many initiatives to promote women’s political participation in the Pacific, and Papali’i in particular has been a champion and a strong partner to UN Women to promote women’s political participation in the region.”
The Transformational Leadership programme focuses on building the personal capacity of women who are considering standing in the elections so that they are capable of transforming their societies by championing the principles of equality, whether from inside or outside of parliament.
Both events are part of UN Women’s Strongim Mere Project. The Srongim Mere project is implemented with the support of the European Union. UN Women and the European Union (EU) have joined forces with civil-society and the government in Solomon Islands to drive sustainable and innovative action for gender justice. Through the ‘Strongim Mere’ and ‘Protecting Women’s Human Rights through CEDAW Implementation’ projects, UN Women and EU aim to achieve increased women’s political participation and strengthen inclusive access to justice by protecting women’s human rights.
Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific programme
The Strongim Mere project is part of the AGJP programme works to identify and break down country-specific barriers to women’s political participation and access to justice and human rights. To do this, it provides training, support and resources to candidates, governments and civil society organisations to affect change at every level.
The programme been designed using nationally-identified priorities that acknowledge and highlight the complexity in changing social norms, values and cultural practices around human rights, access to justice and women’s political participation.
About UN Women and the Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was created at the July 2010 United Nations General Assembly. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
The MCO covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs):
Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works with four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women; Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific; and Increasing Community Resilience through Empowerment of Women to Address Climate Change and Natural Hazards Programme to progress with gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific.