24 Feb 2009

Women in Tonga push for political representation

1:27 pm on 24 February 2009

Women's groups across Tonga say affirmative action needs to be taken to ensure women have a voice in Parliament.

The groups have made submissions to the Constitutional and Electoral Commission which has been set up to determine the nature of democratic reform.

The Tongan Women's National Congress says 30 percent of the seats in Parliament and 30 percent of the Cabinet positions should be reserved for women.

Its president Mele Amanaki says surveys have shown that women, especially widows and single mothers, are the most disadvantaged in Tonga.

She says women for years have been obstructed from entering politics.

"We have had only four women elected to Parliament in the last 30 years. In order to improve their participation at the decision making level, we thought using temporary affirmative measures would be the way to go for Tonga."

Ma'a Fafine Moe Famili, or For Women and Families, and the National Council of Women, have made similar submissions.