Samoa's Supreme Court has ordered the nation's Parliamentary Speaker to swear an additional three women to Parliament immediately, a move Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tu'ua'u — one of the new members — says is a "win for all women."
The addition of Tu'ua'u, as well as Fa'agaseali'i Sapo'a Feaga'i and Toomata Norah Leota, brings the number of women members of Parliament to seven, out of a total of 54, reports Samoan Observer. The decision has resulted in the highest number of women MPs ever represented in Samoan politics.
Recently, the Samoan Constitution was updated to “affirm gender equality by providing an avenue to address the under-representation of women in the Parliament of Samoa.” This has been achieved by establishing a clause that mandates women make up at least 10% of all Parliamentary members, as well as three separate pathways that allow women to become additional members.
Tu'ua'u and Feaga'i have been sworn in under the 10% clause.
Leota has been sworn in as an additional member.
The additions come over a year after Samoa held an election to determine its next federal government. After months of standoffs, the Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party was finally confirmed as the legitimate winner, with Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa becoming the nation’s first women Prime Minister.
A 2021 election candidate Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tu'ua'u has described the Supreme Court’s decision to get her and two other women into parliament as a “win for all women.” https://t.co/NiRZScNvdQ— Samoa Observer (@samoaobserver) May 11, 2022
The Pacific remains one of the least politically gender-inclusive regions anywhere in the world.
Currently, Samoa’s neighbours Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia are the only three nation’s across the globe without a single woman representative in parliament. According to the World Bank, the average percentage of women in national parliaments across nine Pacific nations jumped from just 5.7% to a measly 6% between 2016 and 2021.
Worldwide, women represent over a quarter of all legislative members.
Studies have long shown that higher numbers of women in politics mean stronger attention is given to women’s issues.
"Women policy makers [also] prioritise issues such as healthcare and the environment; increased representation of women in elected office is associated with counteracting corruption; and, states where women hold more political power are less likely to go to war and less likely to commit human rights abuses,” explains WFD, an organisation dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world.