Minister Meets with Leaders of Women's NGOs

04/02/2011 09:54

Leaders of women's Non Government Organisation groups in Tonga were the first group to
officially meet with the Minister of Education, Women's Affairs and Culture, Hon. Dr. 'Ana Taufe'ulungaki since taking up the portfolio in early January.

The meeting brought together nine leaders from various organisations, the Langafonua 'a Fafine Tonga, the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, the Catholic Women's League, the Talitha Project, the Tonga National
Centre for Women and Children, Ma'a Fafine mo e Famili, Women in Fisheries, the Women's section of the Free Weslyan Church  and the Women and Children Crisis Centre.

WCCC Director, Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiki said “It is great to see a woman leading a ministry that plays a crucial role in determining the future of Tonga. Education and advancing the role of women are key areas that Tonga needs to elevate if we as a nation are to progress, especially to achieve human rights objectives that we have committed to such as Millenium Development Goal 3: to promote gender equality and empower women.”

In her capacity as the head of the Women Affairs and Culture department, Dr 'Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki will be responsible for the operation of the National Gender Policy and advancing the rights and
representation of women in Tonga in all levels of society.

There was an opportunity for each NGO leader to introduce their organisations to the Minister as well as raise critical issues and priorities.  The talanoa raised various discussion points such as a lack
of funding, social issues (violence against women, teenage pregnancy), economic barriers and development issues for women and political issues such as the push for CEDAW ratification.

The group also discussed the opportunity to present a submission to the current proceedings of the Land Commission.

The Minister has agreed to meet with this particular group once quarterly to address specific issues dealing with women's overall empowerment and development in Tonga.

“When it comes to being represented in decision making decisions, women
are a minority group in Tonga. That makes the responsibility of the
Women's Affairs and Culture portfolio even more important, to voice
the concerns of those female voices who are not heard” said

Key areas that the Women and Children Crisis Centre would like to see
promoted in the Women's Affairs and Culture portfolio include:
•       Development of a Family Law Act
•       Development of a specific Domestic Violence Act
•       Implementation on the Ministry of Police National Domestic
Violence Policy
•       Development of Sexual Harassment Policies in Private
businesses, NGOs and CBOs
•       Gender training across all levels of society