Now is the time to get your views heard

How much are we prepared as a nation for the upcoming General Elections?

Democracy means that as citizens we should be given the right to have a say in how our country is run.

It’s not just about turning up on the day of elections to vote – it’s about knowing about the new parliamentary system that is going to be in place, it’s about knowing who your candidates are in your electorate, it’s about knowing what your candidates stand for and believe in and it’s about knowing why you are going to vote for a particular candidate – and not just because the candidate is your relative, friend or going to donate many things to your community!  This is the first step in engaging in the democratic process.

It’s about taking an interest in the decisions being made around you and finding out how you can get involved in shaping these decisions.

It is really important that we have well informed opinions and we need to share these views on a wide range of issues such as violence against women and children, crime, climate change, women’s participation in decision making, human rights, gender equality, economic development, teen pregnancy, suicide, drugs and alcohol.

Or you may have passionate views on things that impact your daily life – such as public service delivery issues, schooling and work.  If we really care about the future of Tonga it is up to us to get informed.

Campaign time – which is NOW – is when we need to get our informed opinions heard! Make use of the campaign time to get to know your candidates in your electorates and make a difference – because YOU CAN. Invite them to community meetings, tell them your views. Together we can all make Tonga a better place to live!!!!


Getting serious about women in politics

WCCC attended a workshop last week held by the Tonga National Womens Congress to strategise how more women can be elected in the upcoming federal elections, scheduled for November 25.

Nine female candidates are expected to stand for the upcoming elections, and all of them are passionate about having females representation in this historic election for the Kingdom.

Women have had the right to stand as candidates in Tonga since 1951. However the first female Member of Parliament was not elected until 1971, and since then only 4 MPs and two Cabinet Ministers have been female. Currently there is one female Cabinet Minister.

The workshop guest speaker, Ms. Naziah Ali, a communication specialist from UNIFEM, pointed out the Pacific trend of underrepresentation of females in parliament. “The Pacific is one of the most under represented regions in the world. Women make up 50% of the population – but as a region they only make up 1% of parliament” said Ali.

TNWC wants to see the election of as many female candidates as possible to advance the cause of women’s human rights, and to provide a female perspective in the key decision making process for Tonga. Parties in attendance at the workshop included representatives from the media, Ma’a Fafine mo e Famili (MFF), Tonga National Centre for Women and Children, the Catholic Women’s League and the WCCC. The opening address was provided by Mrs. Tuna Fielakepa, with all parties spurred on by her inspiring words to design a plan for promoting women in parliament over the next crucial few months before the election.

Registration to vote is still open to those who are interested. For details contact the Prime Ministers Office at 24 644

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Light shines on young girls of Tonga


WCCC Community Education Trainer, ‘Asela Sauaki was a guest speaker at the Ha’apai Camp Glow – the week long sleep away camp for empowering young girls between the ages of 13 – 19.

Sauaki talked to the young girls about sexual harassment. “It was quite a new topic for them even though many had experienced it while growing up. Most of the time they thought that they just had to put up with it, even when they had found it offensive and knew that it wasn’t right” said Sauaki.

Through this session the young girls were able to considersexual harassment and gain a fuller understanding of the concept. They shared many examples with each otherof sexual harassment that happens at school, and admitted that  the perpetrators are not only boys and prefects but also male teachers. The out-of-school youth were able to provide examples that occur at the workplace.

Participants were given work in groups to discuss the effects on girls at school and women at work when they are sexually harassed. These effects included students not attending class, being stigmatized and ultimately dropping out of school and impacting on their education and choices. The effects on women included either feeling pressured to accept the situation to keep their jobs, or losing their jobs and income (with flow on effects for the family and community) as well as feelings of guilt and shame. Overall participants concluded that harassment makes girls and women fear interaction with men.

Participants expressed relief after realizing that it is possible to talk to people about the issue  or confront the harasser by telling them that what he is doing is “not ok”. The session also provided information on how to report sexual harassment to authorities with an understanding that sexual harassment is not the victims fault “We talked about how it all goes back to gender roles -how we are brought up as boys and girls. Men continue to hold power and authority in our society, and sexual harassment is an abuse of that power.” said Sauaki.