New regional women's caucus head tells of leadership stigma
Twenty women from seven Pacific nations gather in Fiji to find ways to boost women's representation in politics.
The Pacific has the lowest number of women in Government in the world at just 4-point-7 percent.
Twenty women from seven Pacific Islands came together for the a three-day workshop last week, organised by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and the Fiji Women's Rights Movement.
The group chose to appoint Papua New Guinea's Minister for Community Development, Loujaya Kouza, as chair of its new regional women's caucus.
Ms Kouza spoke to Amelia Langford about the new caucus and what it is like being a woman in a male-dominated world.
LOUJAYA KOUZA: Wherever we can, we want to be able to be that united caucus for the region of women, helping to support, to facilitate, to talk about, and to bring to the public what it is that needs to be attended to regionally, what needs to be supported, whether by way of networking, by way of awareness, by way of prayer support, by way of monetary support, how can we do this, and to just work it together. Right now, our concern, those of us that were represented here from our various countries in the Pacific region, we really want to ensure that our Fiji sisters that are intending to participate in their national elections, be it September or whenever, are supported to be able to have a free and fair election towards a democratic Government. As chairperson and being a senior member of the Papua New Guinea Government I also have an interest in that my Government has committed 50-million to ensure that Fiji does have free and fair democratic elections.
AMELIA LANGFORD: How optimistic do you feel about attitudes changing in the Pacific towards women going into Parliament?
LK: It is a very very big challenge. For example, they don't judge you by the content of your character or your qualifications or whatever but they judge you by, you know, what you look like and whatever, whatever. Do they like you or they don't like you. They don't know anything about you and it can be most intimidating.
Loujaya Kouza also says being a woman politician means her private life has become part of the public domain.
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