24 Feb 2009

Tonga NGO cautious over proposed women quota for parliament

10:10 pm on 24 February 2009

There's a call in Tonga for education to encourage women to back female candidates for political office.

Women's groups, making submissions to the Constitutional and Electoral Commission on political reform, say seats should be set aside for women.

They say the present system, with also no representation from women, is very undemocratic, so they want up to 30 percent of the seats reserved for women..

The Tonga Civil Society Forum's Drew Havea says they are for greater political participation by women but have some concerns about quotas.

He suggests a different approach to increase the numbers of women in Parliament.

"There needs to be a stronger education programme in relation to the women voters so they can be coming out and vote for women. I think that some concern would be if we allow a quota for women, then the other stakeholders will be asking for quotas. But definitely generally there is a lot of support for more women voice in parliament."

Drew Havea