Samoan PM with advice for women running for Parliament
Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has told women thinking of running for parliament they should not neglect their families.
Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has told women thinking of running for parliament they should not neglect their families.
Tuilaepa was speaking at the final sitting of Parliament for the year, which was attended by women taking part in a programme promoting women's participation in Parliament.
Leilani Momoisea reports.
Samoa passed a law last year which reserves five seats, or l0 percent, of the 49 seats in Parliament for women. The Prime Minister said the government had devised a way to bring more women into Parliament, but women should not let their drive and determination to enter politics make them neglect their God given duties as mothers. He said women hold families, villages, and churches together and they are also the backbone of the country.
The Executive Director of Women in Business Samoa, Adimaimalaga Tafuna'i, says she takes these comments well, and women do keep the balance within Samoa society and villages. She says women in Samoa are being given many opportunities, including within government.
ADIMAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: There are many Samoan women taking the top positions within government ministries, the women that managed everything with the SIDS conference is another example. Women in Samoa can take matai titles, you don't see that in many other countries. Our Prime Minister is a very strong supporter of women, he is a strong supporter of women getting into politics.
A lawyer in Samoa, Susana Leota, says perhaps in New Zealand the Prime Minister's comments could be taken a different way, but in Samoa, it's not an issue, and have simply been taken as advice.
SUSANA LEOTA: He's a very progressive Prime Minister and his support of establishing the Ministry for Women is a real big indicator that he does support women in parliament, and women progressing in general in the country.
Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says there's only been one parliamentary term when there were five female MPs. He says since then, the numbers have dropped, with three women MPs currently in government. Autagavaia says the Prime Minister has pushed to see more women represented, which is why the constitution was changed to ensure at least ten percent of the seats are occupied by women in parliament.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: So the government was looking at how to lift the number of women participating in decision making and especially in politics. So, the Prime Minister was saying maybe in the future people will get used to having more women in politics and who knows, maybe it will end up in another general election that most of the women will take the 49 seats in the house.
He says most women he spoke with, though welcoming the reserved seats for women, expressed that they would prefer to win a seat on their own merit, and that's the challenge they're setting for themselves.
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