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in an empowering and party neutral environment.

Encouragingly, several of the PPW members have indicated that the programme has confirmed their decisions to run in the upcoming elections, no doubt better aware, better informed and much more equipped to compete with the men of Tonga for a seat in the national Legislature.

The UNDP through the Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme, the Civil Society Forum and the Tonga Electoral Commission, have been providing civic education and campaign training for some of the Members who are interested in or have announced their candidacy for the 2014 general elections.


The Practice Parliament was an initiative that hoped to inspire wider participation in the Law making process and its overall success will perhaps be measured by the successful election of women into the Legislative Assembly in November during the upcoming general elections.

The PPW Members anticipated that this was the first of many

future Practice Parliaments and have indicated their commitment to ensuring its sustainability. They expressed that the Legislative Assembly of Tonga with the support of development partners would continue to take the lead role in the planning and implementation of future PPWs. The PPW’s outcome statement affirmed that the women believed in an official parliamentary process that would allow women to explore further initiatives to promote gender, youth, culture, economic empowerment, social and disability issues at the national level. To summarize, the Practice Parliament was a very positive means of starting to initiate the process of breaking down the social and cultural barriers that prevent women from reaching their fullest potential, especially in advancing their representation. In general, most comments on radio talk shows tended to highlight that the PPW has helped propel women into politics and encourage both genders of the electorate to seriously consider women on their merits as promising potential leaders in the future. It is the quiet hope of those behind the scenes that the PPW

has generated widespread energy and ongoing momentum that will encourage women to enter the political arena, which will then achieve the objective of realizing a healthier, more inclusive and gender-balanced Legislative Assembly.

...the PPW has generated widespread energy and ongoing momentum that will encourage women into the political arena....”


1. ‘Ofa Guttenebeil, Report 4, Advancing Women’s Representation in Tonga 2004 2. The Basic Tables and Administrative Report Census of Population and Houseing 2011 reveals that the total population is as follows: Total population: 103,252. Male: 51979, Female: 51,273 3. Friendly Islands Human Rights and Democ- racy Movement of Tonga

4. The Public Awareness campaign and the Practice Parliament was generously funded and aided by various donors and agencies including the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Australian AID, UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, Legislative Assembly of Tonga, Tonga Electoral Commission and the Civil Society Forum of Tonga. 5. The Secretariat started a community Facebook page for the initiative and was named Practice Parliament for Women in Tonga. The page can be accessed at https://www. 6. A total of 33 meetings were held through- out the 17 constituencies in Tonga where the public were invited to join. The Secretariat had engaged prominent women to speak at each vil- lage meeting in order to inspire the participation of the women. 7. The Electoral Act of Tonga provides the grounds which a person must satisfy in order to be eligible to stand as a candidate in the general elections and they are that the person must be a Tongan citizen, over 21 years of age, has not been convicted of an indictable criminal offence and has resided in the constituency from which he will be registering as a candidate for over 3 months. 8. Three former women Parliamentarians suc- cessfully applied to join the Practice Parliament. They were (1) Lady ‘Eseta Fusitu’a, who later became the Speaker of the Practice Parliament. She became a Member of Parliament in 2009 when she was appointed as the Minister for Information and Communication (2) Papiloa Bloomfield Foliaki who became the Minister of Justice during the Practice Parliament. She was the first female commoner to become an elected Member of Parliament in 1981 (3) Lepolo Taunisila was the Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole House. Mrs Taunisila was a People’s Representative from Niua. She was in Parliament for one parliamentary term (2005-2010). 9. Clause 51(2)(a) of the Act of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2010 provides that the Prime Minister may nominate as Cabinet Ministers not more than 4 persons who are not elected representatives. 10. Currently, the two non-elected members in the 2010-2014 Parliamentary Term are Hon Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki (Minister of Education) and Hon. Clive Edwards (Minister of Justice) 11. Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u in her address during the opening ceremony of the Practice Parliament for Women in Tonga 2014 held at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre in Nuku’alofa on 7 April 2014.

The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 187

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