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New Zealand MPs connect with their Pacific counterparts to grow women’s representation in the region

-Women MPs from Fiji, Niue, and Tonga, will converge on Parliament next week, to participate in a mentoring programme. The programme is designed to build technical capacity and social capital in the Pacific region by establishing long-term meaningful relationships between participants and New Zealand women MPs, while giving the participants practical strategies and skills they can take back to their Parliaments.

The programme is being delivered under the auspices of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, which provides a unique forum for women from across the political spectrum to come together and work towards increasing women’s participation in Parliament, act on gender-related issues, and mainstream gender considerations in the development of policy and legislation. This in turn helps to improve outcomes for women and girls in their individual communities.

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Pacific Region Chairperson Poto Williams MP says “sadly, the Pacific (excluding New Zealand) remains one of the lowest regions in the world for women’s political representation. However, the past few years have seen momentum and commitment deliver great gains, including a woman Deputy Prime Minister (Samoa), and two women Speakers (Fiji, Cook Islands). In the 2017 elections, women’s representation in the Tongan Parliament and Niue Legislative Assembly doubled and I hope to see similar success in the 2018 Fijian Election.”

The intensive, two-day programme aims to provide women with a safe space to ask questions, share concerns and connect with others in the same position. New Zealand women MPs from both sides of the House will lead workshops on how to campaign and negotiate, represent a community effectively, handle abuse, criticism and set-backs, and work with the media. The participants will also get to meet with Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Trevor Mallard, and Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

The Programme will be held on 5 and 6 December 2017, with thanks to funding from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

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