Cooks Islands Women’s Practice Parliament Underway

United Nations Development Programme

PRESS RELEASE

March 7, 2017 (Rarotonga, Cook Islands) – Sixty women are gathering in Rarotonga this week to take part in the Cook Islands’ Second Practice Parliament for Women.

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI), the workshop is organised by the Parliament of the Cook Islands, in partnership with the Cook Islands National Council of Women. UNDP’s Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative is funded by the New Zealand Government.

In opening the workshop this morning, Honourable Niki Rattle, Speaker of Parliament, spoke on the importance of equal representation of men and women in politics. Sharing some of her own experiences, she recognised the difficulties in entering politics but assured participants it was not beyond their reach: “If you have an inkling you want to be in politics, take a top job in the government or lead an NGO, this is the place for you to be.  In the next few days, you are going to learn how to climb that ladder.” 

Looking ahead to International Women’s Day on March 8, the Speaker highlighted this year’s ‘women in the changing world of work’ theme and introduced participants to the employment opportunities bill they will examine during the Practice Parliament.

The New Zealand High Commissioner, HE Mr Peter Marshall, delivered the keynote speech on the invaluable contributions women leaders can make.  He encouraged participants to relentlessly pursue their place in politics: “What we want here today are people with a fire in their belly and high aspirations. Back yourself, put yourself forward and be noticed.”  

Ms Georgina Bonin, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Samoa Multi-Country Office, commended the Parliament of the Cook Islands for its efforts in increasing the number of women interested in running for Parliament.

She stressed that women’s voices are crucial in delivering sustainable development gains for all citizens and invited participants to “take every opportunity to inform and empower yourselves in the days ahead, so you may leave feeling more confident to make your voice heard in politics.” 

Mr Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme said “By developing a broader set of skills and allowing women participants to immediately apply those skills, the Practice Parliaments have proven that hands-on training leaves women better informed and more confident to participate in politics. UNDP is proud to be supporting this event and will continue to promote women’s political participation throughout the Pacific.”

The Practice Parliament programme consists of two-day trainings on good governance practices and parliamentary procedures, delivered by the Parliament Office with the support of former and current Parliamentarians. Government departments will be delivering briefings on key policy areas, including gender-based violence, temporary special measures (TSMs) and the Sustainable Development Goals. Following that, participants will take part in a ‘mock session’ in Parliament, which will be broadcast live on Cook Islands national radio.

Practice Parliaments were first piloted in 2011 and are designed to support increased women’s political participation.

 

Practice Parliament for Women Manual Launched

 


March 6, 2017 (Rarotonga, Cook Islands) – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched its ‘Practice Parliament for Women: Training Manual’ at the opening of the second Practice Parliament for Women of the Cook Islands in Rarotonga today.

The Manual is a collaborative effort of UNDP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with the support of the Government of Australia.

Honourable Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands, said “We are proud to organise our second Women’s Practice Parliament this week. Seeing so many women sitting in our Parliament is a refreshing and inspiring sight. I warmly encourage other Parliaments in the region to use this manual, so that every opportunity is seized to enable and encourage women to enter into politics in the Pacific.” 

Practice Parliaments for Women were first piloted following a meeting for Small Island States (SIS) on “Advancing Women’s Participation in Decision Making Processes”, held in November 2011 by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and supported by UNDP and UN Women. Countries of the Pacific Islands Forum highlighted the need to increase the capacity of women to enter parliament.

Ms Georgina Bonin, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Samoa, explained that “Practice Parliaments are designed to support women’s political participation by helping them develop a broader set of skills, and by giving women participants the opportunity to immediately apply those skills. A core part of this training tackles how the legislature actually works. This helps demystify the institution and assists women in better understanding the “job” they would be applying for if they ever decide to run as a candidate.”

Mr Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme said “The Practice Parliaments have proven that hands-on training leaves women better informed and more confident to participate in politics.  UNDP is proud to work with partners to organise these events and will continue to promote women’s political participation throughout the Pacific.”

The Practice Parliament programmes consist of training on good governance practices and parliamentary procedures, delivered by the Parliament Secretariat with the support of Parliamentarians.  Government departments facilitate the policy briefings, often tackling a wide range of policy areas, which has previously included issues such as gender-based violence, climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The training concludes with participants taking part in a ‘mock session’ in Parliament, allowing them to directly apply their skills.

To date, successful Practice Parliaments have been delivered in PNG (2012), Palau (2013), Tuvalu (2013 and 2016), Solomon Islands (2014), Tonga (2014), Samoa (2015), Cook Islands (2015), Nauru (2016) and Fiji (2016).

For more information, or media interviews please contact:
Ms Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, Tel: (679) 3227 504; Email: emily.moli@undp.org