A womens rights activist in Vanuatu says parliament is not just for men. 

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai introduced proposals for 25 constitutional changes on Thursday, among them, a bill to allow for reserved seats for women in Parliament. 

The bill would ultimately go to a public referendum.

Chair of Women Against Crime and Corruption Jenny Ligo explained to Lucy Smith that in order for change to occur, everyone needs to be on board with the decision. 

JENNY LIGO: I think nationwide we have to take it that Parliament is not only for men. They think Parliament is only for themselves and they are wrong. Women need to consider, that this is not about one certain group – about one certain group of women, this is not about church women. It has to be a national issue and women have to think national. We will have to make sacrifices in the sense that if we want women in Parliament, then when it comes to the actual  — for example, if in 2020 there is no reserved seats in 2020 — women have to stand up for women, we have no choice we have to make that sacrifice. Because it’s not going to benefit women, it’s going to benefit the whole nation.

LUCY SMITH: How many seats do you think there should be reserved for women in Parliament?

JL: At the moment there are 52 seats. I believe if they are concerned about making more seats because it is a cost, they should consider and give women say about 15 or 20 seats. Vanuatu politicians are scared of giving seats to women, it’s been on going, and they seem to be afraid to women going to parliament, I don’t get it, people are scared.

LS: What reason are people giving to not have women in the Parliament?

JL: People don’t understand the whole issue, I think men, they laugh, they think they are in charge in parliament. They think parliament belongs to them.  READ MORE