‘My hope for Niuean women is to work harder and prove that they can do things like men. But our women are trying to balance home life, family life and time with community and they are doing well. Since 2006, thirty-three women have applied for licenses to have businesses. They are informal ones but I think that’s the best for my country because it’s a small place.’
Hon Va’aiga Tukuitonga, Member of Parliament, Niue.
Project name: Support to the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team
Outcome areas: Ending violence against women
Project partner: Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT)
Total funding: $3,000,000*
Funding timeframe: 2015–2017
At the invitation of the Government of Niue, SPC RRRT has been assisting with the development of legislative reforms in the area of family law.
SPC RRRT’s assistance for the development of family protection legislation in Niue included supporting Madam Judge Mere Pulea, a former Fijian Family Court Judge, to provide technical assistance to the Government of Niue. Judge Pulea has worked with SPC RRRT on the development of family protection legislation in a number of Pacific countries.
Under the leadership of Ms Gaylene Tasmania, the Director General of Social Services, stakeholders have been active in a series of consultations to deliberate, comment and provide feedback on what the legislation should contain.
Key stakeholders who are working together include members of the Bills Committee and representatives from the Police, Department of Education, Department of Justice, Crown Law, Public Service Commission and Health and Social Services. Judge Pulea assisted with the development of the initial draft of the Family Law Bill for consideration by the stakeholder group.
Going through this process and contextualising the draft Bill to the practical and lived realities of Niueans allowed for vigorous and robust discussions to unpack key issues to take into account when revising and updating the proposed legislation.
The draft bill contains eight major parts and includes legislative provisions relating to marriage, de facto relationships, separation and divorce, access and custody issues relating to children, age of majority, child protection, domestic violence and other ancillary, but associated matters.
SPC RRRT is continuing working with the Government of Niue through the Ministry of Social Services in developing a revised draft of the Family Law Bill that reflects the needs identified for Niue through the consultations, as well as socialising the ideas covered by the Bill to facilitate a smooth journey of the draft legislation through the law making process.
*This activity is part of a larger program.
Project name: Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships (PWPP) project
Outcome areas: Leadership and decision making
Project partner: International and Community Relations Office, Australian Department of the House of Representatives
Total funding: $2,850,037*
Funding timeframe: 2013–2018
The Hon Va’aiga Tukuitonga has been a Member of Parliament in Niue for 17 years and attended her third PWPP project annual forum in Apia in 2016.
Pacific Women supports the PWPP project, which seeks to improve understanding of the factors that constrain women’s political participation, and to build the capacity of women MPs in the Pacific, the institutions in which they work and the staff who support them. Hon Tukuitonga finds the annual gatherings beneficial as it’s a good opportunity for countries to share what they are doing to advance gender equality.
As one of the region’s longest serving woman parliamentarians, she reflected: ‘It’s a really challenging job and one that women should come out, take a step forward and do it. Not be scared, be strong and be humble. Be confident that they can make a difference.’
Hon Tukuitonga also believes it is important to keep track of the numbers of women parliamentarians and celebrate the successes.
‘In my country since we got self-Government, ten women have got into the House that’s for the last 40 years. And I think that’s a big number for a small country.’ Niue has a 20 member parliament and currently two (10 percent) of its parliamentarians are women. This is greater than the average representation of women in parliament across the Pacific, which sits at 6.7 percent (excluding Australia and New Zealand).
This year delegates at the forum focused on women’s economic empowerment in the Pacific. The 60 delegates, including eight male parliamentarians, from 21 different parliaments discussed the role of legislators in supporting women’s economic empowerment and the positive flow on effects for families, communities and nations when women are able to participate fully in the economy.
‘My hope for Niuean women is to work harder and prove that they can do things like men. But our women are trying to balance home life, family life and time with community and they are doing well. Since 2006, thirty-three women have applied for licenses to have businesses. They are informal ones but I think that’s the best for my country because it’s a small place,’ Hon Tukuitonga stated.
*This activity is part of a larger program.