60 Representatives Attend 4th Fiji Women’s Forum

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Forum calls for guaranteed equal participation in government

By Zafiya Shamim

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 9, 2013) – About 60 women leaders representing their communities from all across the country came together for the fourth Fiji Women's Forum (FWF) at Studio 6 Apartments in Suva yesterday.

FemLINK Pacific executive director Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls said they were focused to enhance women's participation in the electoral processes and in local and national government.

"We are here to create awareness on women's political participation through the sharing of experiences and learning from local, regional and international women," Mrs. Bhagwan-Rolls said.

"Our framework is to develop a collaborative approach amongst women sharing skills, resources and building greater solidarity.

"We need to follow our four principles — respect for human rights, define the role of the security forces, promote women's participation in decision-making and democratization processes, including Temporary Special Measures and have a rights-based, respectful, open and participatory constitution making process.

"We do not want only legislations but constitutional guarantees that women can equally participate in the local government."

Mrs. Bhagwan-Rolls said they wanted instrument of peace, free, fair and a non-violent election.

United Nations Women Regional manager for Gender Equality in Political Governance Program Rita Taphorn said it was important for women to be well informed and also understand the process of elections.

"This is a national issue for development and not only women but also men need to reach out to the community so that their voices are heard," Ms. Taphorn said.

The co-conveners of the FWF are the National Council of Women Fiji, Soqosoqo Vakamarama, femLINKPACIFIC and the Fiji Women's Rights Movement.

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