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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Vanuatu Province Reserves Council Seats For Women
Shefa province leads the way with 25% plan for next election

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 13, 2012) – Shefa Province looks set to lead the way yet again and this time in the forthcoming Provincial Elections on January 8, with its mandate to reserve 25% of its seats on its 18-seat Council for women candidates.

The Council has reserved 25% of its seats for women and its mandate is to encourage women to contest in the forthcoming elections to fill those seats.

Shefa first tried the initiative in its 2004 elections but it did not work out. It tried again in 2008 and again it did not work.

The current Council led by no-nonsense President Lami Sope has made it its mandate to make sure women leaders are elected to the Council in the forthcoming polls.

Shefa Secretary General Michel Kalworai says his Administration has been active during its current term to promote women in Shefa in political and economic sectors.

"This is in line with CEDAW Article 7 which calls for women to actively participate in public places in Parliament and on the Provincial Council, and Article 14 which empowers women to take part in the economic development of the country", the SG says.

One of the incentives to build up the women is to encourage them to manage their Road Markets throughout Shefa Province. "The women of Shefa Province are now recognised as a powerful economic force in the unofficial economic sector and even the UN is sitting up to acknowledge their contributions towards the economic wellbeing of their communities," Kalworai says.

Even the Reserve Bank’s Department of Statistics is also interested in the economic data from the women’s markets for inclusion in its economic bulletins.

Already Kalworai says his Office is talking to the women’s associations to consider selecting their candidates for the Provincial Election on January 8.

"So far Epi, Tongoa, North Efate Offshore Islands, Nguna-Pele, Mele and Ifira have already indicated their interests to select a woman candidate each to contest. Now it is up to them to negotiate with existing political parties but at administration level, we will support the mandate to provide an environment conducive towards the recognition that they deserve," Kalworai says.

Shefa Province is going to the polls on January 8 along with Tafea, Malampa and Penama Provincial Councils.

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