Mereseini Vuniwaqa has welcomed the growing number of women joining the General Election race.
The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation wants to see more standing as candidates.
She was commenting on the list of provisional candidates so far released by SODELPA and the National Federation Party.
The list includes Lynda Tabuya (SODELPA), Tanya Waqaniika (SODELPA), Faith Grace (SODELPA), Lenora Qereqeretabua (National Federation Party) and Riddhi Damodar (NFP).
“As Minister for Women I welcome the increased participation of women in political and public life,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.
She said Fiji was a party to CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women).
“One of the hallmarks of CEDAW is the aim to increase the participation of women in decision making and in political and public life.
“I think we can all agree that women bring in a different perspective on issues – whether it is national, familial or even on an individual level.
“Fiji is on the cusp of a great awakening in relation to gender equality and the empowerment of women – mainly due to the ideal legal environment we now have in relation to equality and which is fostered by the great work that stakeholders in civil society have been doing for decades.
“This sets the platform for empowering policies and practices advocating for change in attitudes and mentalities which are a stronghold in the power structures existing within our society and which are largely patriarchal in nature.
“The legal platform has been set and is ideal for increased participation of women in the political process – our new electoral system truly favours the increased participation of women in parliament and we have seen this in the last election.
“The onus is now on women to come forward and apply for candidacy for the next elections.
“I’m advised that 44 women stood as candidates in the last elections.
“As Minister for Women I would like to see that number increase in the upcoming elections – as that may directly correlate to an increase in the number of women parliamentarians who gain their parliamentary seat through the same standards used for our male counterparts.”