Honourable Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands (center) holds up the 'Practice Parliament for Women: Training Manual' (Photo: UNDP)

Rarotonga, Cook Islands
 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched its ‘Practice Parliament for Women: Training Manual’ at the opening of the second Practice Parliament for Women of the Cook Islands in Rarotonga today.  

The Manual is a collaborative effort of UNDP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with the support of the Government of Australia.  

Honourable Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands, said “We are proud to organise our second Women’s Practice Parliament this week. Seeing so many women sitting in our Parliament is a refreshing and inspiring sight. I warmly encourage other Parliaments in the region to use this manual, so that every opportunity is seized to enable and encourage women to enter into politics in the Pacific.”  

Practice Parliaments for Women were first piloted following a meeting for Small Island States (SIS) on “Advancing Women’s Participation in Decision Making Processes”, held in November 2011 by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and supported by UNDP and UN Women. Countries of the Pacific Islands Forum highlighted the need to increase the capacity of women to enter parliament.  

Ms Georgina Bonin, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Samoa, explained that “Practice Parliaments are designed to support women’s political participation by helping them develop a broader set of skills, and by giving women participants the opportunity to immediately apply those skills. A core part of this training tackles how the legislature actually works. This helps demystify the institution and assists women in better understanding the “job” they would be applying for if they ever decide to run as a candidate.”

Mr Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme said “The Practice Parliaments have proven that hands-on training leaves women better informed and more confident to participate in politics.  UNDP is proud to work with partners to organise these events and will continue to promote women’s political participation throughout the Pacific.” 

The Practice Parliament programmes consist of training on good governance practices and parliamentary procedures, delivered by the Parliament Secretariat with the support of Parliamentarians.  Government departments facilitate the policy briefings, often tackling a wide range of policy areas, which has previously included issues such as gender-based violence, climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The training concludes with participants taking part in a ‘mock session’ in Parliament, allowing them to directly apply their skills.  

To date, successful Practice Parliaments have been delivered in PNG (2012), Palau (2013), Tuvalu (2013 and 2016), Solomon Islands (2014), Tonga (2014), Samoa (2015), Cook Islands (2015), Nauru (2016) and Fiji (2016).

Contact information

Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, Tel: (679) 3227 504; email: emily.moli@undp.org

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