Vanuatu has for the first time a Deputy Leader of the Opposition who is female, and she is Julia Gloria King, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Efate Rural.

She assumed this position last Thursday.

Ishmael Kalsakau, the Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament (MP) for Port Vila, announced her appointment, adding that this is a significant step for women in leadership.

Pointing out Mrs. King’s leadership journey, Kalsakau mentioned her past role as the Third Deputy Speaker when she was on the government side.

Now, in the Opposition, she takes on the role of Deputy Leader of Opposition, occupying a position that is being held only by men.

Kalsakau said he has confidence in her ability to fulfill the role and wished her success.

In her role as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. King will deputise for the Leader of the Opposition when necessary, MP Kalsakau said.

Mrs. King is the only female MP in this legislature. She became an MP 14 years after Vanuatu had its last female MP. Reflecting on her first 12 months as an MP, she said that most of the debates happening in the parliament, she was not overly familiar with, and it would take quite some time to be able to understand fully the extent of the issues that were being discussed.

She said that even though she does not talk a lot in parliament, it does not mean she has nothing to say.

Addressing the challenges of being the only female MP, Mrs. King acknowledged that her views would be different from her male colleagues.

She said she is honoured to be nominated to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition position, considering it a privilege and recognising the associated responsibilities.

As she steps into this role, Mrs. King pledged to serve to the best of her ability, noting the importance of accountability in government.

The female MP added that in the events in the last 12 months, a lot has happened, and “probably not for the best interest of the country” but it had to happen to bring the situation to where it is today.

She emphasised their duty to hold the government accountable, ensuring it fulfills its responsibilities and serves the people effectively.

As the parliamentary watchdog, the Opposition aims to represent the interests of the people and maintain government accountability.

The Deputy Opposition Leader called on the people to continue praying for the nation and shared her hopes for a better 2024.