The Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament and MP for Central Honiara, Hon. John Moffat Fugui has called on women to show interest in leadership and politics if they want to take up leadership role in politics.
Speaking at the opening of the women regional conference in Honiara this week, Hon. Fugui said such position calls for women in Solomon Islands aspiring to leadership and politics to be strategic and be supported.
As seen in the past and the recent election, women who want to participate in politics have faced many challenges, Hon. Fugui added.
“One of the many challenges includes influencing the general public to accept women taking up leadership positions”
“Though numerous trainings have been done for the intending women candidates, it was not reflected in the recent election results for both the local and national government level”
The deputy Speaker further stated that participation of women in leadership and politics can only be boosted if society together with the legislative institutions and government machineries are prepared to support the aspirations of women in leadership and political participation through reforms.
The National Parliament in its legislative functions can play a vital role in this process. Hon. Fugui has also highlighted the evidence of how the National Parliament as an institution simulated the Institute Patronage and the establishment of the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group in 2011.
This was part of the gender components of the Parliamentary Civic Unit under the UNDP Parliamentary Strengthen Project which lapsed in March this year. Hon. Fugui further explained that the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group is an initiative of Parliament as an institution to nurture young leaders. The group serves as a forum to allow young men and women from various fields or organization to meet in a Parliamentary setting.
The Deputy Speaker further explained to the participants that the purpose of the group is to influence government policies and legislation from a strategic platform. He said YWPG works closely with the Ministry of Women, National Council of Women, UN Women and other Women Organizations and their work programs are aligned with each other.
“So this group is an avenue for women leaders and others who show interest in taking up leadership roles or politics to reach their full potential to positively influence their communities”
Over the years, because of the interests members of the group have, they successfully hosted and involved in activities as outlined by the deputy Speaker as; the 2011 mentoring program that promoted leadership and equal gender participation both locally and regionally, the 2012 mock debates on issues relating to women leadership and Temporary Special Measures, the 2014 women’s mock parliament for intending candidates to attest their ability to articulate and recommend possible solutions on issues they face, the 2014 consultation and general awareness on the Family Protection Bill, making submissions on matters and issue of inquiry before several Parliamentary Committees, the 2013 short bus route petition which resulted in an inquiry and report tabled in Parliament, and early this year 2015 the group presented the voter’s behavior report from a survey conducted prior to and after the 2014 National General Elections.
The Deputy Speaker Hon. Moffat Fugui further encouraged the participants by saying that bridging the gaps for women to participate in leadership and politics for Solomon Islands has been to ensure that aspiring women are placed in strategic locations; this will enable women to display leadership capacity and be recognized.
“It is not farfetched to invest in these aspirations”
Hon. Fugui has also quoted the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trades, who had mentioned in the 2015 report on empowering women and he quote “Investing in women is not only the right thing to do-but-a smart thing to do”
Deputy Speaker Fugui finally concluded by further cementing the above quotes, saying that the Government and Institutional commitment to invest in women is not only the right thing to do for the betterment of a national, but a strategically initiative toward bridging the gap for women in Solomon Islands to participate in political leadership.
The Women’s Leadership and Political Participation Regional Conference is been organized by the Political Parties Integrity Commission, the European Union and the United Nations Development Program in partnership with the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the National Parliament Office.
The conference ended on Thursday.