Banaban Voice

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A ray of sunshine - 4 women join Kiribati parliament

Letter From Suva Island Business
Laisa Taga, Editor-in-chief

It is December again—the end of another year. And as we look back on how we’ve performed during the year, women of the Pacific have every reason to celebrate.

First, the good news from Kiribati. For the first time in the country’s history, four women are now joining parliament after successfully beating their opponents fair and square in the country’s recent election.
The four are Rereao Tetaake (Teraina in the Line Islands); Teima Onorio (Arorae); Tangariki Reete (Betio, South Tarawa); and Maere Tekanene (Tarawa Teinainano, South Tarawa).

What is most significant about this election is that one of those women pulled off what could only be described as the major upset of the elections.

A new face in Kiribati’s political scene, who contested the elections for the first time after the loss of her father, Reete stunned the nation after winning the first round of the election. And not only that, she became the first woman ever to win in the most populated constituency in Kiribati and that’s Betio—an island and a town at the extreme southwest of South Tarawa with a population of 12,509. Her late father also stood in that constituency.

A political observer in Kiribati says Reete’s win was also a catalyst for constituents on the other side of South Tarawa known as Tarawa Teinainano to elect a female MP.

“All in all, the election of the four women MPs is an achievement in itself and all the advocacy work carried out by advocacy groups and NGOs to get women into politics has finally paid off.
“In fact, it is good to see that women are getting into parliament through their own hard work and sweat, rather than getting in there through special privileges. I take my hat off to these ladies and it goes to show that women can compete with men on a level playing field and win,” the observer said.

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