22 Sep 2009

NZ Pacific MP critical of Tonga's move not to ratify UN Convention

10:58 am on 22 September 2009

The Tongan government's decision not to ratify a treaty to improve the rights of women has come in for criticism at a parliamentary hearing on maternal health in the Pacific.

Last week Tonga voted not to ratify CEDAW - the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

At yesterday's hearing in Wellington, a United Nations reproductive health advisor Wame Baravilala said he was concerned by Tonga's decision, as maternal survival is better in countries where women have equal rights.

And the New Zealand Labour Party's spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban was critical of Tongan pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva for voting against the UN convention.

"I think that's appalling because at the end of the day, if it's about democracy, it's also about men and leaders in the Pacific acknowledging there's a real need for women to work alongside them and to also participate in priority setting and making decisions."

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says maternal morbidity is high in countries where there are few Pacific women in parliament.