ni-vanuatu-women-politicsA Vanuatu Civil Society Influencing Network (VCSIN) has called for urgent action to resolve the need for political party reforms or a political party integrity bill to regulate the creation and maintenance of political parties.

The call is made by VCSIN which consists of 38 civil society groups and non-government organisations which operate under the banner of Governance, Leadership and Accountability (GLA).

The GLA Programme is funded by the Pacific Islands Forum States (PIFS) administered through Oxfam, which enabled VCSIN leaders to meet at Ramada Resort & Spa this month on July 3-4, to discuss issues of national importance and to construct a regional policy brief on ‘Women in Parliament’.

VCSIN Spokeswoman Dr. Andrina Thomas says the latest meeting is in preparation towards the PIFS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting this month and the Pacific Leaders’ Summit in September.

In an earlier workshop on June 21, 2018, VCSIN members identified issues of national importance that needed focussed group discussions and presentations were made on the need for good governance concepts of transparency, accountability and the rule of law to be adopted by all political parties.

The spokeswoman says this include the Government and other institutions to improve their governance and eliminate patriarchal mindsets about the place and role of women, and reduce alleged “rampant corruption including bribery, nepotism, cronyism and gender discrimination which is happening on an epic scale in Vanuatu’s work-places, thus resulting in women not accessing or being removed from their positions of authority or not having a voice and space in Vanuatu’s parliament”.

One solution to combat this problem was the creation of a women’s political party known as the Leleon Vanua Democratic Party.

“The political party encourages membership from both men and women and will provide a platform for women to contest future municipal, provincial and national elections without any political party interference,” she says.

Previous VCSIN workshops had taken place on June 20 2018 at Le Lagon Warwick Resort and Spa and June 21 2018 at Ramada Resort & Spa. The GLA programme had invited Vanuatu Government state ministers, members of parliament, political parties and other stakeholders to participate in the dialogues.

However only the Luganville Municipal Council female councillors attended the June 20 VCSIN workshop.

“It was sad to note that no MPs and political parties except for a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Treaties & External Trade, had attended”, she confirms.

The Law Reform Commission was invited to present to VCSIN the Vanuatu Government legislative reforms including the purpose of the Decentralisation Act.

A VCSIN Consultant, Hilda Lini presented a draft write-up of the concerns captured during past VCSIN workshops on the current situation of Vanuatu political party practices, barriers and possible risks, Ni-Vanuatu citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms, temporary special measures, under-representation of women in parliament and the creation of policy briefs to present to the national government and to the PIFS regional forums.