Support a woman leader, then support her again

*This Story of Change was originally published in the Pacific Women Annual Progress Report 2017–2018. All values are consistent with that reporting period.

Project name: Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships project (Regional)

Project partner: Australian International and Community Relations Office, Department of the House of Representatives

Total funding: $2,850,000

Funding timeframe: 2013–2018

Pacific Women invests in women with leadership potential and, where possible, continues to support them as they develop in leadership roles.

The Honourable Gabrissa Hartman. Photo credit: Government of Nauru.

Before being elected as a Member of Parliament in Nauru, the Honourable Gabrissa Hartman was the Deputy Clerk of the Nauru Parliament. In this role, she was selected to participate in two Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships project activities to build her leadership skills.

Ms Hartman attended the 2015 Meeting for Pacific Clerks held in Wellington, New Zealand where she facilitated a session on committee training. She was also awarded a Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnerships Research Scholarship to spend one month in the Australian Parliamentary Library, mentored by senior Australian parliamentary researchers. She undertook a research project on the topic of under-representation of women in the Nauru Parliament.

Soon after returning to Nauru, Ms Hartman resigned from her job as Deputy Clerk so she could contest the next election. She was one of the candidates that Pacific Women funded to attend the Women’s Practice Parliament conducted by UN Women before the 2016 election. Participants and members of the government role-played a debate of a mock bill and learned transformational leadership skills.

Ms Hartman successfully contested the Ubenide by-election in January 2017, becoming the third woman ever elected to the Nauru Parliament.

Pacific Women has continued to support Ms Hartman as a Member of Parliament. She was one of five new Pacific women parliamentarians funded by Pacific Women to attend the second Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Australian Regional Conference in August 2017. The conference was hosted by the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne, Australia.

In her maiden speech to Parliament, Ms Hartman said: ‘I come to the House still yearning and full of hope for our country. If we don’t yearn and hope and aspire then there would be no need for continuous improvement. That is the essence of my yearnings and hope for our nation.’

Ms Hartman’s story is one example of the way Pacific Women supports continuous improvement in women’s leadership and decision making in the Pacific.