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It’s been quite an empowering year for Fiji’s women. Not only did 44 aspiring women politicians out of 249 candidates contest the elections, eight have made it to Parliament. This is Fiji’s first national elections in eight years. It would have been wonderful to witness women make up 30 percent of the House, instead of the current 14 percent. However, it is satisfying to know that these women parliamentarians were elected through a voting process. Fiji has a higher regional average than other Pacific islands, sitting at 13.4 percent collectively and the rate of women who contested the 17 September 2014 elections was at 17 percent, compared to only six per cent in the 2006 elections. Despite the fact that eight women also made it to parliament eight years ago, it was a race comprising of 27 female candidates and 311 male candidates – that’s 25 women under six party banners and two independent candidates. 

These numbers definitely serve as a testament to the change in cultural and societal mindsets but there is still so much more to be done. Former Minister for Women Dr. Jiko Luveni was sworn in as the country’s first female speaker of the House, while Ro Teimumu Kepa recently took up the reins as the first female leader of the opposition. Many of these candidates received immense support within their various party structures with four being chosen for the role of Party President. Roshika Deo from ‘Be the Change’ and one of two independents racked up more votes than earlier anticipated, performing better than a few of the other political parties.