August 16, 2012

Lack of women irks commission

Nanise Loanakadavu
Saturday, August 11, 2012

THE Constitution Commission is worried that women are not coming forward to make their submissions on what they felt should be included in the new constitution.

And the commission is hoping to seek other provisions where a special meeting can be organised for women where they can speak freely in the absence of men.

Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai told The Fiji Times yesterday that since day one, no woman had come forward to make their submissions.

"We are concerned really because we do not know what the problem is," Prof Ghai said.

He said women held different perspectives of life and it was only fitting that they be heard on how their interest could be safeguarded.

He said Fiji's scenario was quite different from other countries — which he assisted in formulating their constitution — where women were fully represented through such consultations.

Prof Ghai said this was a big issue because most women, from their own observation, were reluctant although they made an effort to come to the venue and listened to submissions made by men.

"These laws are not just for women, it's for everyone including women. I plead to all women to stand up and make their voices heard now," he said.

Prof Ghai said it was important that women understood this process and how it could impact on their lives once it became the document for all Fijians.

He said women's problems and concerns were much more different from men as they would focus more on family related matters.

Commission members Penelope Moore and Christina Murray said it was disappointing to see women not coming forward to make submissions.

"The panel have more women than men which should give them the confidence to speak their mind from their heart, and make their submissions in whatever way they like," Ms Moore said.

Yesterday, a woman gave her views to the commission.

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