Written by Kerryn Baker
Fiji went to the polls on 14 November 2018. The incumbent FijiFirst Party won a narrower victory than expected, with just over 50 per cent of the vote. The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), increased its vote share from 28 per cent in 2014 to almost 40 per cent. While six parties contested, just three — FijiFirst, SODELPA and the National Federation Party (NFP) — won seats in parliament.
Women were key players in the 2018 election as both voters and candidates. While women have historically been under-represented in Fijian politics, the 2018 election brought a record number into parliament, where women now hold ten of the 51 seats. This blog examines how women candidates performed in the election and what lessons this might hold for further increasing women’s participation in politics in the future.
Women’s participation in the 2018 election
Women contested the 2018 Fiji election in far fewer numbers than men. Despite no formal legal barriers to equal participation in elections, women comprised only 24 per cent of candidates in 2018. However, this is still an increase from recent elections in Fiji; women made up less than 18 per cent of candidates in 2014 and less than nine per cent in 2006.
The increase in women candidates — 56 in 2018 compared to 20 in 2014 — was largely due to strong representation in the candidate rosters of minor parties, most notably the Humanity Opportunity Prosperity Equality (HOPE) party, which fielded 19 (68 per cent) women candidates. The number of women candidates fielded by parties with parliamentary representation — FijiFirst, SODELPA and the National Federation Party (NFP) — remained at similar levels to 2014.
Click here to read the full article published by Devpolicy Blog on 25 February 2019.