Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Pacific Region

The CWP Pacific Regional Chairperson focuses on two key factors critical to increasing women’s participation in public office: strong networks for women in decision making positions seeking parliamentary election and ensuring women in the Pacific are aware of how to access the support, mentoring and encouragement available to them. To that end, the CWP Pacific Region produces pamphlets outlining its objectives, vision and mission statement. 

A variety of regional strengthening activities have been undertaken with the aim to support both incumbent and emerging women parliamentarians across the Pacific and create opportunities for women to participate in political life. The Pacific Region wants to not only ensure current members are well-connected, but also to encourage future Pacific women parliamentarians. The aims and objectives that underpin CWP Pacific Region activities are: increasing the representation of women in Pacific Parliaments, fostering closer relationship between women parliamentarians in all branches of the Pacific Region, discussing and acting on gender-related and other issues in the Pacific Region and providing opportunities for strategic discussion development for women parliamentarians.

Recent activities include:

CWP New Zealand meet with visiting UK delegation to discuss gender equality initiatives           
Members of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) New Zealand group held a meeting with UK Parliamentarians as part of a visiting CPA UK delegation in April 2018. The agenda included discussion of conducting a survey of women MPs (and potentially male MPs) on their experience of sexual violence, abuse and harassment. The CWP New Zealand Members are continuing to progress its work to end forced and underaged marriage and are looking at its cross-party legislative agenda for this term.

New Zealand and Solomon Islands Women Parliamentarians meet to promote dialogue on gender related issues
The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians New Zealand (CWP NZ) Branch seeks out opportunities for Members to discuss and act on gender-related and other issues in New Zealand and the Pacific Region. In February 2016, CWP NZ Co-Chairs Jo Hayes MP and Louisa Wall MP and CWP Pacific Regional Chairperson, Poto Williams MP were delighted to meet with Solomon Islands’ Ministers, Hon. Freda Tuki Soriocomua, Minister of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs, Hon. John Dean Kuku, Minister of Public Service, accompanied by Her Excellency Mrs Joy Kere, High Commissioner of Solomon Islands to New Zealand.

The visit of Minister Tuki and Minister Kuku took place under the New Zealand emerging leaders’ programme of the Pacific Partnership Fund. The principal objective of the programme is to build the capacity of emerging Pacific leaders. Minister Tuki is the sole female member of a fifty seat Parliament. Her visit provided an important chance to build relationships with New Zealand Parliamentarians and is part of a wider effort to support effective governance and capacity building in the Solomon Islands.

Minister Tuki shared experiences around family violence and child safety legislation. Violence is seen an indicator of the status of women and girls, and its eradication is key to improving their lives. Ways to improve women’s representation in local and central government was explored, including leveraging existing women leaders in non-governmental organisations, rural and community groups, small business, and in sports. It was agreed that it was not simply a matter of increasing the number of women candidates, but ensuring they were able to succeed in their roles once elected.

CWP Pacific meeting between New Zealand and Tuvalu discusses women’s representation
Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Pacific Region Steering Committee Member, Hon. Poto Williams MP from the New Zealand Parliament met with Dr Puakena Boreham, the only female MP in the Parliament of Tuvalu on a visit to the Parliament of New Zealand and they spoke about how mentoring and connections between women members in the Pacific can enhance performance and confidence in the House and its Committees.