SAMOA GENDER ADVOCATE SUPPORT RESERVE SEATS FOR WOMEN

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Says time has come for women’s views to be heard

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 11, 2012) – In order for women to be at the highest level of decision making in Parliament, they should be given an easier path to get there. This is the view from advocate and University of South Pacific Coordinator Continuing and Community Education, Leatuaolevao Ruby Va’a.

The Constitution Amendment Bill 2012 guarantees women 10 per cent of the seats in Parliament. If the bill is passed, five of Parliament’s 49 seats would be guaranteed for women from the next General Election.

Leataolevao said it’s about time Saumoa introduced a bill that ensures the views and decisions coming from Parliament are balanced.

"I think to start somewhere, we have to make it easy for women to get in Parliament," she said.

"We have to be realistic that to encourage women to be at the highest point of decision making there has to be easy access for them to get the ball rolling."

Although the legislation aims to balance views in the round table, Leatuaolevao believes the bill makes it hard for women to run.

"It’s more inhibitions being placed on women and making it hard for them to choose whether to run or not, in addition to all the challenges they are facing but this becomes more challenging for them," she said. Despite opposing views on the bill, Leatuaolevao explained that such legislation is not for women alone but a development for Samoa.

"Women offer a wider, deep and a different perspective in issues than men. Not to belittle men, but some women will make better decisions. I shudder at some decisions being made in Parliament and also legislation is for the betterment of the whole country."

She said although the five seats don’t present the balanced views of women but "it’s time to have more women up there".

"Samoa has been independent for 50 years now and it’s about time something is done about it."

Leatuaolevao admires the Government for encouraging women to break the barriers between them and men.

Attempts to get a comment from the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Samoa Nileema Noble were unsuccessful.

Communications Associate Elisapeta Kerslake said unless they are given approval from their headquarters in New York, they cannot comment on the issue. nThe UNDP’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for 2015 aims to promote gender equality and empower women and is widely blamed for government introducing the bill in Parliament.

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