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June 22, 2021

Vanuatu’s women-only party aims to get more females into politics

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PORT VILA, 19 JUNE 2019 (ABC)—Political parties in Vanuatu are already lobbying ahead of next year’s national election, due early in the 2020 — while the current Government of Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, holds on to power, despite constant threats of votes of no confidence.

He survived another of those late last week, by reshuffling his cabinet.

Meanwhile, among those political parties vying to get into the new parliament, is one that’s barring men from holding positions within its management team.

The Leleon Vanua Democratic Party is hoping to have at least half a dozen women run as candidates.

One of those already has a high profile in Vanuatu: Hilda Lini was the first female to be elected to parliament in the country, back in 1987.

But since she first entered politics, very few other women have followed her — there are currently no female MPs in the 52-seat parliament.

Andrina Thomas is the party’s Secretary General, and she says they hope to have more success next year by taking control of the party’s management.

“They saw that the political parties controlled by men, were just using women as mere decorations and paying lip service to gender equality,” she told Pacific Beat.

“So a lot of those women who contested under political parties controlled by men, because they had several other men who were there as well, plus the women. So she didn’t have a chance at all.

“The women realised after 39 years, only five women had gone into parliament, and it was important that we had our system of putting women into parliament, that’s when the mothers said, we have to create our own political party where we control the political party,” she said.


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