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Academic Calls For Fiji To Boost Women In Politics

Academic Calls For Fiji Electoral Reform To Boost Women In Politics

AUCKLAND, May 14: A New Zealand media academic has called for an electoral change in Fiji to enable fairer participation for women in political life in an article published in the latest Pacific Journalism Review.

Only seven percent of Fiji's lawmakers are women and Dr Rae Nicholl, of the University of the South Pacific's World Politics Programme, suggests an amendment to the alternative vote electoral system.

Writing in a research paper in a special gender edition of PJR, Dr Nicholl says "one reason for this lack of female visibility [in Parliament] is the focus on racial divisions in Fiji, which has resulted in the neglect of the gender gap".

She says Fiji women have only recently enjoyed a "highly visible and vocal advocate" of their cause - Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi.

Fiji's week-long general election ended at the weekend with first results expected on Monday.

Dr Nicholl's article comprehensively analyses the Fiji alternative electoral system and its impact on women representation in Parliament and compares this with other regional systems such as in New Zealand (proportional representation - open) and South Africa (proportional representation - closed).

She offers Guam as a model where a Pacific island nation or territory has achieved high female representation in the legislature.

The journal PJR also includes articles on the Australian and New Zealand political systems, representation of women in online images at the Olympic Games and seduction and the "feminine" in the Australian news media.

New Zealand's Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor, a former newspaper editor, shows in another article that little progress has been made with women being appointed to top editorial management positions.

Yvonne Densem, of the NZ Broadcasting School, explores the gender imbalance in New Zealand's journalism courses with a research article entitled "Where have all the young men gone?".

The gender edition was co-edited by Dr Janet Bedggood and Allison Oosterman of AUT University's School of Communication Studies.

Managing editor Dr David Robie said the edition also included other stimulating content, including an incisive analysis of global media coverage of the Danish cartoons and Islam controversy, an article about HIV/AIDS and the Papua New Guinea media, and a strong media book review section.

Pacific Journalism Review, published by AUT University, is produced twice a year.

PJR Online:


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