Fijian Parliament Takes Centre Stage At 12th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament

The Fijian Parliament took centre stage at the ’12th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament’ which was held in San Benito, Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Summit’s theme was “Women Speakers: Working so every voice counts”. During the two days meeting the Speakers focused on issues related to under-representation; inclusive societies and inclusive Parliaments; and solutions to violence in politics and in Parliament, with particular emphasis on stemming violence against women in politics.

The plenary session in Day Two was co-chaired by the Speaker of the Fijian Parliament Hon. Dr Jiko Luveni. Earlier on the first day, Hon. Luveni had addressed the plenary during the debate on ‘Diagnosing Women’s Under Representation’. Hon. Luveni stated that in diagnosing women’s under-representation in the Fijian Parliament, a number of issues were identified that Parliament needed to capitalise on to increase support for women in politics. Hon. Luveni further highlighted that there is a need to convince communities that women can be strong and effective leaders but equally so with the support, inclusion and involvement of men.

Additionally, the Hon. Speaker informed the participants of the unprecedented initiatives the Fijian Parliament has implemented in efforts to strengthen parliamentary role in the democratic process as well as to convince women that women can effectively play the leadership role. Whilst giving her concluding remarks, Hon. Luveni stated that given the measures undertaken by the Fijian Parliament over the last four years, she is hopeful that there will be a higher representation of women in the next Parliament.

Whilst the Summit was intended for all women Speakers and presiding officers of national Parliaments, women and men leaders from varying backgrounds and sectors including civil society, media, academia and the private sector were also in attendance to share their views and experiences.

At the conclusion of the Summit, the Speakers adopted the Cochabamba Declaration which contained a summary conclusions and a series of actionable recommendations/commitments. The Speakers recognised their vital role in building inclusive societies and inclusive parliaments where women and men representing all sectors of society can participate fully and freely without discrimination, harassment or violence, and agreed to take concrete, immediate and robust action that helps make Parliaments models of inclusivity and gender-sensitivity, where there is zero tolerance towards sexism, racism, stereotyping and violence.

The 12th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament concluded on Thursday, 26 April 2018 and prior to dispersing, the Speakers participated in a tree planting ceremony to commemorate the occasion of the 12th Summit in San Benito, Cochabamba, Bolivia.