A total of one hundred and ninety two (192) women around Fiji were empowered during a pioneer Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Fiji Group Mentoring Workshop for Aspiring Women Politicians held virtually in Suva, Nadi and Labasa on Wednesday 18 May 2022.
According to the Chairperson of the CWP Fiji Group, Hon. Veena Bhatnagar, the workshop was organised for interested women who intend to participate in the political arena.
“Today marks the first ever workshop organised by the CWP Fiji Group. The mentoring workshop is for interested women who intend to participate in the Political arena or who are planning or deciding to become a Woman Politician.”
“We, your women Members of Parliament, have come together as a joined group under the CWP Fiji Group, working together towards Parliamentary democracy and empowering women.”
“We all came from different backgrounds but we all made it to Parliament. Hence, it is just proper that we take this opportunity to empower and equip, interested and courageous individuals as yourselves to take on the leadership roles in our nation’s political arena,” said Hon. Bhatnagar.
Women Members of Parliament who were part of the hybrid workshop included Hon. Bhatnagar, Hon. Ro Teimumu Kepa and Hon. Lenora Qereqeretabua who were in Labasa, Hon. Rosy Akbar and Hon. Selai Adimaitoga at the Nadi venue while Hon. Premila Kumar, Hon. Tanya Waqanika and Hon. Mere Naulumatua were at the Suva venue.
They were joined together virtually and in-person and shared their experiences and guided aspiring Fijian women on what to expect in a political career.
Hon. Bhatnagar acknowledged the immense contribution made by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives, New Zealand, through the Tai A Kiwa Programme towards the workshop.
“Thank you generously for the continuous support and the kind assistance rendered to the Fijian Parliament and the CWP Fiji Group. Your generous support will help us accomplish our goal of institutional strengthening and continuing our work of enhancing parliamentary democracy in Fiji especially as Women Politicians.”
“The impact of your kind contribution towards this workshop goes beyond the institution of Parliament. It is also helping Fiji in its desire to be a nation of informed, inclusive and empowered citizens, empowering women especially in the custom and traditional society that we live in,” said Hon. Bhatnagar.
Hon. Bhatnagar emphasised on the importance of the workshop in breaking barriers at leadership level, especially at national level.
“In this new social and economic climate, women must increase their support for other women. We must all support one another from community level, to municipal leadership, and onto national leadership. Mentorship provides an opportunity to build on that support, develop women’s skills and confidence and provide a tailored support base for aspiring women politicians. Through mentoring, networking and capacity building, women leaders can eliminate some of the historical barriers that often face women in leadership,” said Hon. Bhatnagar.
A participant from the Soqosoqo Vaka-Marama in Nabua, Mrs Akisi Korodrau described the workshop as fruitful and a good learning ground for aspiring women parliamentarians.
“It was indeed a very fruitful workshop, especially learning about the issues that one needs in order to join Parliament. After the workshop, we came back and shared what we learned with our Soqosoqo Vaka-Marama iTaukei colleagues.”
“However, I think that parties standing in the upcoming election should have encouraged their women candidates to join the workshop as they would have benefitted a lot from it,” said Mrs Korodrau.