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FIJI: First woman prime minister possible with election, says Ratuva

Broadcaster Lenora Qereqeretabua ... among "critical and intelligent voices". Image: Fiji Times

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Item: 10113

By Nasik Swami
SUVA (Fiji Times/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji might see its first woman prime minister after this year's general election, predicts New Zealand-based political sociologist Professor Steven Ratuva.

Following in the tracks of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Dr Ratuva believes politics in Fiji is drifting away from the old patriarch-type where men lead in the political arena.

"Politics is shifting away from the old patriarch-type to the paradigm-shifting women who have been able to break through the glass ceiling like [NZ Prime Minister] Jacinda Ardern," he said.

Dr Ratuva said that for Fiji's upcoming general election, women such as National Federation Party's broadcaster Lenora Qereqeretabua, Social Democratic Liberal Party's Lynda Tabuya and Tanya Waqanika, were strong provisional candidates.

"They are all young, ambitious and smart and they represent the new generation of women politicians who will no doubt become dominant voices in Fijian politics.

He said the three women in particular had become dominant voices in the country.

"Interestingly, Lynda Tabuya, Lenora Qereqeretabua and Tanya Waqanika are all from Kadavu Island where I also come from and they bring with them the critical and intelligent voices from the south of Fiji, which is still one of the least developed parts of the country in terms of infrastructure such as roads."

Dr Ratuva said the lead-up to the polls would be interesting with many parties yet to announce their women candidates.

'Anything possible'
Fiji Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said with the shift in the ideologies of the public, anything in Fijian politics was possible, including the election of a woman PM.

Ali said she would love to see a woman taking charge of the country.

She believes the country needs to get away from its traditional thinking and support women candidates who think outside the box and address pressing issues.

Ali said Fijians needed to look at things realistically, and support and young intelligent women to garner for a seat in Parliament.

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