Call for mandatory 50 per cent women in parl’t

VANUATU’S female leaders have asked the Government to legislate for a 50 per cent quota for women in Parliament.

The acting Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Nirua accepted a petition at Saralana Park yesterday, during a celebration for the 38th anniversary of the establishment of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) on May 15, 1980.

Female leaders also announced the formation of a new Democratic Women’s Party.

“We are calling on our Government to take action and do the right thing for the women of Vanuatu. Equal representation in Parliament should be a basic human right for all of us,” said Leiasmanu Cullwick, VNCW executive director.

“We dream of a world where we, as ni-Vanuatu women, can have a real say in the important decisions that shape our lives. We are lighting the way to a brighter and fairer future for the women and girls of Vanuatu,” said Jeannette Lini-Bolenga, Oxfam’s program manager in Vanuatu’s Governance, Leadership and Accountability program.

The VCCW asked the Vanuatu Parliament to include the organisation on the Constitutional Review Committee and for the Vanuatu President to declare May 15 a national public holiday to celebrate National Women’s Day

They asked have the Government to respond by July.

Acting PM Nirua said women should unite in greater numbers to achieve their aim.

Jean Pierre Nirua
Jean Pierre Nirua

“Men will support the women, but it will be up to the women to come together for their common cause,” he said.

“We men all have a mother, we have a wife, we have sisters and we have daughters. Naturally, we support you, but when we see only ten women support VNCW, it does not give us confidence to see where we can go to achieve your aim.’’

He said he will hand over the petition to the Prime Minister Charlot Salwai when he returns from his overseas trip.

There are 52 MPs in Vanuatu’s National Parliament but none are women.

Only five women have been elected to Parliament since Vanuatu gained independence in 1980.