Practice Parliament for Women - Remarks by Ms Lizbeth Cullity, Samoa ParliamentJan 20, 2016
Hon. Speaker of the House, La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao Fosi Schmidt
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here today to officially launch this Practice Parliament.
Making gender equality and political participation a reality is a core commitment of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and when in April 2015 - in partnership with UN Women, the Government of Samoa and the Australian Government - we launched the Increasing Political Participation of Women in Samoa programme, we reaffirmed our commitment to supporting women who wanted to become parliamentarians.
The Pacific has the world’s lowest rates of women in Parliament and this is also reflected in Samoa. Just three women are currently in Parliament, which means Samoa ranks 126 out of 138 countries. In the 2011 election, just eight of the 162 candidates were women.
Despite some progress, from the local to the global level, women remain largely marginalized and under-represented in all aspects of political life and the UN is working hard to change this reality.
Since August last year, as part of the IPPWS Programme, UNDP and UN Women have been promoting a series of trainings aiming at strengthening the capacities of women who want to run for office.
Today, with this Practice Parliament, you have the extraordinary opportunity to better understand the formalities of Parliamentary procedures and to put to good use what you have learned in the past few months. Today is your chance to practice showing your capacities, your vision and the role that you can play in the decision-making.
UNDP has conducted Mock Parliaments in various Pacific Islands Countries and we have evidence that this practice has played a key role in helping women candidates win in their constituencies. And also highlights the value of having women in Parliament. The Practice Parliament gives you the opportunity to be exposed to law-making processes, to fine-tune your debate skills and to experience what it is like to be in the House of Parliament where all national decisions are made.
You are here to demonstrate that you can be a great leader and that you can make a tremendous difference for the country if you are elected.
Understanding how the Parliament functions, becoming familiar with legislative procedures and being able to speak in public are key elements of a good parliamentarian. We hope that, through the trainings received, you now feel more empowered and have more of the tools you will need to be well prepared to run for office.
To conclude, I would like to thank the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for partnering with UNDP in the organisation of this activity.
Thank you to the women, for being here and taking part in this historic Practice Parliament. There’s only 45 days left before the elections and I’m very excited about seeing more women alongside men as the new leaders of this country.