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Remove military presence, asks Fiji NGO Coalition

THE Fiji NGO Coalition on CEDAW has said as Fiji moves towards another election, it must show that a robust constitutional democracy has replaced all vestiges of authoritarian rule. In their written submission to CEDAW, the NGO Coalition report states “authoritarian military presence remains,” and women’s political rights and participation, both at the local and national level, will continually be constrained. “In 2018, the Fijian elections will serve as a benchmark of whether women have the political agency and opportunity to engage at the political level or whether they will continue to be marginalised from public life,” the NGO Coalition said.

CEDAW was informed Fijian women continue to face wide gender disparities in Fiji. Based on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index of 2015, Fiji ranked at 121st out of 142 countries. By Anish Chand “In the last five years, Fiji’s rank has declined from 108 to 121.5 These results indicate that women’s progress, specifically in the economic and political empowerment sphere are severely curtailed,” the NGO Coalition said.

CEDAW was told the Fijian 2013 Constitution has not expressly adopted CEDAW’s definition of “discrimination” and makes no explicit reference to women. “Both the CEDAW Committee and women’s rights NGOs agree that a general equality provision is insufficient to cover the intersecting structural factors that continually impede women’s progress. 

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