Standing up to be counted: Women of Vanuatu demanding their place in the political life of the nation

Too often disenfranchised by culture… women voters during Vanuatu's 2016 General Election. Photo: Commonwealth Secretariat

Disenfranchised by culture… women voters during Vanuatu’s 2016 General Election. Photo: Commonwealth Secretariat

“Respect”, as Father Walter Lini famously said, “is honourable”. But despite the enormous social, economic and cultural contributions they make every day, Vanuatu’s women are rarely given the respect they deserve; they continue to be shut out of political life. And yet, as the scandals of the last 12 months have shown, Vanuatu urgently needs better, more representative political leadership. Vanuatu’s full potential can only be realized when it has a gender-balanced leadership that includes, respects and values the enriching perspectives that women bring to political life. Today, on International Womens’ Day, we bring you the powerful story of a Vanuatu woman leader’s journey as she stands up for the right to take part in politics.

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Is dual citizenship a threat to Vanuatu? No, but unregulated political financing is

By Anna Naupa and Nick Howlett

Part 3 of a 3-part series on Vanuatu’s Electoral Integrity

< Read Part 1: ‘Ghostbusters: it’s time to deal with Vanuatu’s phantom voters’

< Read Part 2: ‘Is diversity of political representation possible in Vanuatu?’

 

Vanuatu passportThis month marks the two-year anniversary of the constitutional amendment to permit dual citizenship in Vanuatu.

In the run-up to the 2016 General Election, some political campaigns have cast dual citizenship as a threat to Vanuatu, and have questioned whether this policy risks political domination by foreigners.

But is Vanuatu’s democracy really at risk of being dominated by foreigners acquiring dual citizenship? The short answer is no. However, when it comes to the financing of political candidates and parties in Vanuatu, foreign involvement in politics is completely Read the rest of this entry »


Is diversity of political representation possible in Vanuatu?

By Anna Naupa and Nick Howlett

Part 2 of a 3-part series on Vanuatu’s Electoral Integrity
Vanuatu’s women deserve better political representation. Source: Vanuatu Department of Women’s Affairs

Vanuatu’s women deserve better political representation. Photo: Vanuatu Department of Women’s Affairs


< Read Part 1: ‘Ghostbusters: it’s time to deal with Vanuatu’s phantom voters’

Read Part 3: ‘Is dual citizenship a threat to Vanuatu? No, but unregulated political financing is’ >
 

VANUATU’S NATIONAL ELECTIONS give citizens the opportunity to shape the nation’s future through their choice of political representation. Electoral boundaries and the total number of constituencies have shifted over the years in response to demographic changes. A recent media report suggested that electorates will be again be modified sometime before 2020. Today, there are 52 seats in the national parliament, with MPs drawn from most of Vanuatu’s different islands.

However, this seeming diversity masks the lack of representation of different demographic groupings within Parliament: women, young people, people with disability, religious minorities and other groups that are not part of the mostly male political elite are effectively excluded. The omission of a significant proportion of the population disadvantages Vanuatu’s national development, because their contributions and needs are left out of the political debate. Read the rest of this entry »