On 9 February, the Women’s Practice Parliament training workshop, implemented by UNDP Pacific Office with support from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and UN Women, was officially opened by the Hon Charmaine Scotty, Minister for Home Affairs and His Excellency John Donnelly, the Australian High Commissioner, who gave keynote addresses, welcoming the Nauruan women participants.
A number of skills building and information seminars were conducted before the actual practice parliament. Representatives from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat gave an overview of the Parliamentary process and also conducted a question and answer session.
Senior members of the Nauru Government also provided context to Nauru’s sustainable development goals, human rights awareness, highlighted key policy issues and provided a legal understanding of Nauru’s gender equality laws.
Mrs Ruby Thoma, the first ever Nauruan woman in Parliament (1986-1992), also shared her experiences as a parliamentarian and gave an encouraging talk, inspiring all those who attended. Nauru Parliament Advisor, Mr Sanjeev Sharma, and the Clerk of Parliament, Ms Anne Marie Cain, highlighted the key functions and procedures of the Nauru Parliament including the role of the Government and the Opposition.
The participants were divided in to two groups – Government and Opposition – and a mock Bill called the Youth Reproductive Rights Bill 2016, was introduced to them. The exercise was covered by Nauru media and broadcast live on Nauru TV and radio.
The participants hailed the workshop as a success, with a number of Nauruan women indicating their interest in becoming nominees in the upcoming national elections planned for June 2016.
Prior to the workshop, the 30 participants from Nauru’s 14 districts had attended a Women’s Transformational Leadership Workshop supported by UN Women and the Australian High Commission, with support from Pacific Women. The workshop aimed to support the participants in understanding transformational leadership and the existence of inequality when it comes to power sharing and decision making; increasing women’s political participation; understanding electoral systems, campaign and election strategies; acquiring knowledge and skills for effective political and social communication; and strengthening alliance, network and coalitions of women at the provincial and national levels as a base support for women candidates through interaction with women organisations.
Article prepared by: Veronica Halstead, DFAT, Nauru Post. This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Nauru Post’s newsletter, Australiana.