Vanuatu Head Of State Calls For More Women In Parliament

Lonsdale meets with Vanuatu National Council of Women

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 17, 2016) – The Head of State, President Baldwin Lonsdale, has repeated his desire to see more women in the Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu.

He told members of the national executive committee of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) that paid a courtesy call Tuesday to the State Office in Port Vila that: “We know the Parliament of Vanuatu is always dominated by men but if we can have two or three women in the Parliament would be good.”

The President repeated the call he made to then Prime Minister, Joe Natuman and his deputy Sato Kilman last year when they led government, following his meeting with Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon in Japan. It was during this visit when he was in Japan that Super Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu in March 2015.

“When Dr. Ban Ki-moon and I met, he told me that Vanuatu was still far behind in the participation of women in the country’s national Parliament.

“He wanted to see many more women enter the Parliament of Vanuatu.

“So, this call I have passed on to the Government of Vanuatu last year led by Joe Natuman and Sato Kilman,” President Lonsdale told his visitors.

He expressed the wish for VNCW to assist with making this call a reality.

On behalf of the VNCW delegation of Acting President Anita Deroin, National Secretary, Wendy Garae, National Treasurer, Yanick Iatika, Member Leisara Kalotiti and Executive Director Leiasmanu Cullwick informed the President that VNCW would be holding its National Conference in May 2017 when a decision was expected on if and how to proceed with this idea.

“Now let me thank you at VNCW for looking after the affairs of all women throughout this nation of the Republic of Vanuatu,” the Head of State continued.

“Since the establishment of VNCW you continued to look after the affairs of all women and girls of Vanuatu. You go through difficult times and the challenges you faced, but you continued to have the strong determination in your heart and mind to serve the women of Vanuatu.

“Our women face difficult lives and many struggle all the time for a better life for themselves and their children and families. And you are always there for them.

“As the Head of our nation, I wish to say a big thank you. At the same time I wish to say congratulations for the good work you have achieved throughout the hard times you have gone through. The road is still long for us to achieve together for our government to recognize the participation of women in the development of our nation,” he said.

Thirdly, the President wanted the participation of women in the election of the President of the Republic of Vanuatu saying the President was a symbol of peace and unity of the country.

“He is the head of the nation and he is for every people of the Republic of Vanuatu, regardless of island, political affiliation, religion. But when we come to elect a Head of State, only politicians elect the President.”

Then he said government ought to review the process for election of the President to change the law for election of the President to include VNCW, VCC, Malvatumauri and youths and the Mayors of three municipalities in the Electoral College for electing a President of Vanuatu. He added that changes have been made including the three municipalities but not the other organizations.

“I have not received any feedback as to the reasons for this but I continue to speak with government on this for them to consider this very carefully because the President is the symbol of Unity and it is good for every organization mentioned are represented in the election.”

Fourthly, the President asked VNCW Executive to consider a law for Parliament to consider because he said VCC are working on a law for the Vanuatu Christian Council and the National Youth Council are also working on a law for the youths of the country and Malvatumauri had its law for the chiefs. He said such a law would properly define the national women’s organization to help the process of discussing issues to do with VNCW and the women and girls of the country with government or the Parliament.

VNCW on behalf of all women and girls of the Republic of Vanuatu thanked President Baldwin Lonsdale for the honor to make the courtesy call. They informed the President that VNCW was established on May 15, 1980 as the only umbrella organization for all women and girls of Vanuatu and continues to carry out its fundamental role and responsibility of ensuring the safety, respect and wellbeing of all women and girls of Vanuatu including visitors to the country.

“The structure of the council is it currently comprises of 84 provincial area councils and 10 municipal ward councils of women.

“And women in each of the six provinces meet and elect the President and executive of the provincial council of women.”

Representatives of these 84 area and 10 ward councils of women will meet in May 2017 in the next National Conference to set the agenda for the work of VNCW for the next five years.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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