FEO Hopeful of Increased Women Participation in Politics

The Fijian Elections Office (FEO) is promoting women’s participation in electoral processes, acknowledging global trends where women tend to shy away from voting for female candidates.

Acting Supervisor of Elections Ana Mataiciwa said that despite women’s higher voter turnout in previous elections their representation in Parliament in Fiji remains low.

Highlighting the numbers, in the 2022 General Election, out of 54 women candidates, only six were elected to Parliament, constituting just 11% of the total elected candidates. Women received 8% of the total votes cast. Over the years, there has been a decline in the number of women candidates, with 44 out of 248 candidates in 2014 and 56 out of 235 in 2018.

“Challenges persist mirroring a global trend where women frequently refrain from voting for female candidates. In the 2022 General Election, 345,240 women registered to vote, with 238,389 women casting their ballots. While the overall voter turnout for women exceeded that of men, only six (6) out of 54 women candidates were elected to Parliament. For the number of votes received, 37, 252 votes were received for the women candidates,”Mataiciwa said.

To this end, Mataiciwa hopes that recent changes to electoral laws, including allowing women to register without altering their names on birth certificates, will encourage greater female involvement.

“I am also reminding women intending to register as voters that they can now do so without the need to alter their name on their birth certificate to reflect their married name.”

To facilitate seamless registration procedures, the FEO has outlined clear requirements:

  • For new registrations: An original or certified copy of the Birth Certificate and a valid photo ID.
  • For registration amendments or reprints: A valid ID only.

The amendment of the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Act 2012, which now eliminates the use of names on birth certificates in the voter registration application, was passed in Parliament in July 2023.

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