As Vanuatu celebrated National Women’s Day yesterday, women leaders stepped up their calls for political leaders to commit to 50% representation for women in the National Parliament.

“We celebrate our achievements and 39 years of existence. We must strive together to achieve our 50/50 goal,” said Leiasmanu Cullwick, Executive Director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW).

Vanuatu’s National Parliament is made up of 52 elected members, none of who are women. Only five women have been elected to Parliament since Vanuatu gained independence in 1980 and, currently, Vanuatu is one of only three countries in the world with zero participation and representation of women in Parliament.

“The economic independence of Vanuatu needs 50% of women in Parliament. 51% of the population are women, who are the economists in all communities,” said Hilda Lini, spokesperson for Advocates for Women in Parliament.

Community leaders gathered at Saralana Park in Port Vila yesterday to celebrate the 39th Anniversary of the VNCW.

“We need leaders who are committed to supporting women’s political representation in Vanuatu. Right now, there is not a single woman sitting in the National Parliament.

“Oxfam is proud to support the important work of the Vanuatu Civil Society Influencing Network, who are calling for 50% women’s representation in Parliament and a brighter future for our nation,” said Lisa Faerua, Oxfam in Vanuatu’s Country Director.