FIJI OBSERVERS MONITOR WOMEN IN TONGA ELECTIONS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Mar. 16) - Two representatives from the National Council of Women in Fiji will be present at Tonga’s general elections tomorrow as observers.

A statement said the experience would help stakeholders implement a 10-year plan to ensure that women make up 50 percent of decision-making positions.

The observers, Asela Naisara and Tauga Vulaono, will travel to Tonga after an invitation from affiliate Langafonua a’ Fafine Tonga. The observers will attend an evaluation workshop to assess the results and the performance of women candidates.

Langafonua general secretary Ms. Uheina Kalaniuvalu said six women were standing in Tonga’s general elections.

"We are mindful that getting women to agree to be candidates and actually campaign to win is a major challenge in most Pacific island countries," Kalaniuvalu said. "We recognize that the sharing of experiences and lessons learnt in campaign management can benefit all Pacific Island countries that are still striving to obtain and increase women’s participation in decision making."

A council statement said that experiences of the two women would be used to implement a plan of action formulated after stakeholder consultation on women and decision-making.

March 17, 2005

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