Suva, Fiji - Pacific women that serve as Clerks or Deputy Clerks in their respective countries, are in a unique position to not only promote gender equality in the workplace but also in the work of Parliament.
A regional network of women in senior Secretariat positions across several national Parliaments, have convened in Suva, Fiji, to share lessons and best practices as Pacific peers through the first Pacific Parliament Women Clerks and Deputy Clerks Meeting.
The south-south learning platform is a specific approach the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji supports, to advance the professional development of the participants in their Secretariat roles.
“This is an important space for dialogue and experience sharing that needed to be created and will need to be maintained, and I am happy that you have agreed to participate in this initiative”, said the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani, in her opening address to participants.
“Mainstreaming gender can be a daunting task particularly if you feel that you are a lone female voice in the senior leadership of the Parliament in a male dominated environment”, said Lubrani.
“It is important to recognise that these gendered dynamics you may face in your professional settings are not unique to your own country, and that you all can actively play a supportive and mentoring role with each other across the Pacific.”
Parliaments in the Pacific have the lowest percentage of elected women in the world. Thus, creating a male dominated work environment.
Gender based inequalities linked to patriarchal social norms was highlighted as one of the hindrances to the increased political participation of women in the Human Development Report 2016 entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’.
While significant resources have been dedicated to programmes that aim to increase women’s political leadership and participation, progress in the Pacific has been slow.
She added, “I also acknowledge the generous donor support from the New Zealand and Australia governments that have enabled UNDP to work with your Parliaments and we hope to continue to play a useful role in this regard.”
While the two-day meeting focuses on some of the key issues and challenges faced in the workplace by participants, discussions will cover topics that includes:
- power dynamics within Parliaments
- systems and processes for developing effective relationship between the Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Speaker,
- addressing specific challenges for Secretariat staff with regards to political and traditional power structures in Parliament
- challenges faced by women senior secretariat staff in dealing with male Members of Parliament
- steps to creating gender-sensitive Parliaments.
Represented at this meeting are Clerks and Deputy Clerks from Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Tonga.
The two-day meeting finishes on Wednesday 6 September.
Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Communications Associate – Effective Governance, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: (679) 3227 541