Dear Editor,

As a Ni-Vanuatu female student studying Principles of Good Leadership and Governance at the University of the South Pacific, it always saddens me to see the representations of women in Vanuatu’s political arena so lacking compared to other Pacific Island regions.

In past years, most women who were regarded as leaders in communities had tried hard to secure a seat in parliament. During the last general election in 2016, ten women contested. Unfortunately none of them was elected even though some contested for their political parties and some as independent candidates.

Minister of Justice, Ronald Warsal, publicly told the media outlets that the current Government was preparing a bill to amend the number of reserved seats to be allocated to women. Mr. Warsal made the announcement on May 19th 2016, that the Council of Ministers meeting had approved the amendment that was to be amended on June 10, 2016. Was the bill amended? If not, why is it taking so long for the bill to be amended? Until now, women are still waiting for answers towards the bill before the national election in 2020.

Opposition leader, Mr. Ishmael Kalsakau contested that the people of Vanuatu had to be consulted first because the Constitution wasn’t given the proper respect it deserved and the decision to introduce women into governance was politically driven and had nothing to do with gender equality.

Again, women are still waiting for answers to be made by the current Government towards this matter. It is clearly hard for most woman leaders in Vanuatu to win seats, therefore it is better to amend the constitution.

Antoneth Toa

DG101 Student (Principles of Good Leadership)

This letter was originally written to the editor of the Vanuatu Daily Post