Feb 26, 2017 Last Updated 12:56 AM, Feb 15, 2017

Women to the fore

Bank governor calls for greater effort

FIJI’s central bank wants to see more women on the boards of companies listed on the South Pacific Stock Exchange. Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor, Barry Whiteside, said there was a need for women of merit on these boards. Whiteside, who is also chairman of the Capital Market Advisory and Development Taskforce, said that there was a general consensus that gender diversity based on merit needed to be seriously considered at the board or top management level.

The notion of gender diversity on boards of listed companies had become an integral indicator of corporate governance, he said. Women hold less than 10 per cent of board positions and approximately 60 per cent of the companies listed on the SPSE do not have a single woman as part of their boards. “It is time that companies took action to break this glass ceiling and take advantage of this untapped pool of qualified board candidates,” Whiteside said. “These statistics also highlight the need for talent development and investment in leadership taking into consideration gender diversity.”

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Clark is out

UN appoints former Portugese PM

WHEN the United Nations General Assembly formally acclaimed Portugese diplomat, Antonio Guterres, as secretary general there was disappointment in many communities. New Zealand and its supporters in the Pacific had hoped for a better showing from former New Zealand Prime Minister – now United Nations Development Programme Administrator – Helen Cark. Eastern Europe had hoped that it would have a long-awaited opportunity to lead the UN and women around the globe had dared to hope that a woman would be appointed. But with the support of the all-powerful UN Security Council, Guterres appeared to have the position in the bag well before the vote. After the Security Council adopted by acclamation the resolution recommending to the General Assembly that Guterres be appointed, Russian Ambassador to the UN, VITALY CHURKIN, fronted the press.

Q: What would you say to millions of women who are disappointed as they expected a female candidate?

A: We had a fair process, encouraged presentation of women candidates. 50 per cent of women candidates. Ultimately, most important thing was to have the best candidate available, which happened to be Mr Guterres.

Q: Will acclamation and unity in the Council on this have impact on other issues in the Council?

A: I hope so, but I can’t say too much. We are continuing our discussions on even the most difficult things. Most importantly this sign of unity will hopefully be translated to GA and they’ll support Mr Guterres

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“THE fluttering of the tent in the wind just takes me back to that night,” said Eta Tuvuki, 37-year-old single mum. Her story is just one reminder that the recovery following Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston is not just about economics but also should ensure long term psychosocial support for adults and children “Going to the garden is a way we work together as a family,” she explained, relating that her children are traumatised and relive the experience of TC Winston when they saw all the damage to their home before their eyes.

Participation for Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery remained the focus as our focus group discussions continued with a core group of women leaders in Rakiraki who have been actively involved in our Women’s Weather Watch campaign particularly since TC Winston. Key preparedness priorities include food and water security. “When we were having our (village community) meeting last month, that’s what we’ve been trying to discuss to plant kumala for this cyclone season coming because that can stand us during cyclone and after cyclone,” said Salome Raqiyawa, 38 years old and member of the Nalalawa Women’s Club in Rakiraki.

“We will start planting it in November.” Lessons learnt from TC Winston include access to daily weather updates as well as information-communication systems which enable communities who cannot access radio stations to receive information to support preparedness, highlighted Raqiyawa, whose home is in a ‘broadcast black spot’ and continues to rely on femLINKpacific’s Women’s Weather Watch SMS updates.

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Unsung heroines

Helen Hakena: Bougainville, PNG: HER village Ieta was burnt to the ground on the 28th of May 1990. The entire village had to plea to neighboring communities for safety and security. Young women were taken and raped. Authority was in the hands of the rebels. Helen Hakena, now the executive director of Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

She has fiercely fought for the protection of women and children’s human rights during the 10 year long “Bougainville conflict”, being one of the key women leaders in Bougainville during the crisis who brought about peace. During which, one of the biggest challenges she faced was trying to influence both sides to lay down guns and join the peace process. There were multiple reasons and causes of the Bougainville conflict, compensation claims by the land owners of the Bougainville Copper mine which was not paid by the government of PNG, and damage to the environment among the few.

Then came the struggle for independence. In May 1990, Helen was seven months pregnant. She gave birth prematurely “as a result of being scared and frightened in an old abandoned bank.” She remembers two other pregnant women give birth in the same bank that day. However, they were not so fortunate and one of them took her last breath on the table while she watched and heard their cries for help. “There was no incubator for my son. Every morning, my baby was placed out in the sun to keep him warm – 

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Let’s stop violence against women

It has been more than 100 years since a proposal that a celebration of and for women be held every year in every country on the same day was tabled at the second international conference of working women in Copenhagen by Clara Zetkin, as the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party Women’s Office. And this month, we will mark the occasion of International Women’s Day in March with various activities across the globe. The UN declares an International Women’s Day theme and for 2013 it is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women (VAW)”.

Violence against women in the Pacific: The United Nations Population Fund Pacific Sub-Regional Office (UNFPA PSRO) which works with 14 governments in the region has been involved in national prevalence studies to measure the magnitude and patterns of violence against women, as well as its consequences and risk factors. The UNFPA supported studies have been implemented in Samoa (2000); Solomon Islands (2008); and Kiribati (2008). The same study methodology was also used by women NGOs in Vanuatu (2008); Tonga (2009); and Fiji (2010). Currently, the UNFPA, with AusAID funding is supporting five more studies in the region.

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