Encouraging women to run for office

Pacific Island Countries have some of the lowest levels of representation of women in parliaments and local governments in the world. 5.4% of parliamentarians are women compared to the global average of 21.8%.

UN Women is working across the Pacific to help women recognise and build on their strengths and skills, and to prepare them to become community leaders and candidates for elected office.

Leadership training was provided to 45 potential women candidates in Vanuatu. The training covered how to engage in community consultation, campaign strategy, policy development and hands-on interview skills. Vanuatu’s municipal elections were held in January 2014. Five women were elected – all of them graduates of UN Women’s leadership training.

“This (UN Women leadership) training gave me the confidence I needed to continue with my campaign and now that I am in office, the leadership skills I need to manage the committees and progress issues I am involved in and care about.” 

– Newly elected Councillor, Vanuatu 

The absence of women in decision-making and leadership in the Pacific is largely a result of negative gender stereotypes, encouraged by socio-cultural norms and processes such as inherently biased justice structures and systems. In order to combat this, UN Women facilitated the production of a radio series to change local attitudes.

A Time to Stand  tells a story based on the lives of many women considering or already standing for parliament, as part of a radio drama that promotes women in leadership roles – and women’s active participation in the political process in the Solomon Islands.

The radio series, produced by Pasifika Communications in Fiji, is part of the European Union-supported Strongim Mere project under UN Women’s Advancing Gender Justice program.

Read more about UN Women programs to increase women’s participation in leadership and decision making.