Cook Islands Women's Practice Parliament Underway

Mar 7, 2017

Practice Parliament for Women in Cook Islands. Photo credit: UNDP/L.Genius/2017

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.  


Contact information

Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, Tel: (679) 3227 504; email:  

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