Vanuatu civil society network pushes for political reform

Vanuatu's Civil Society Influencing Network is seeking political reform.

The network, which represents 38 civil societies groups in Vanuatu is funded by the Pacific Islands Forum to encourage good governance, leadership and accountability or what is called GLA.

The network has become closely linked with the newly formed women's political party, Leleon Vanua.

Andrina Thomas told RNZ of the forces behind the emergence of the party.

“There’s a lot of issues right now in terms of governance,” Thomas said.

“We see a lot of things are happening, especially in terms of gender equality. There is no woman in parliament. And we have been ranked with PNG and FSM as having no voice and space in Vanuatu’s parliament. Since 2012 we have seen that we have not been able to put woman in parliament so we have only men occupying 52 seats in parliament.”  

According to Thomas, the formal Westminister system is not working.

“Right now we have a lot of competition, a lot of votes of no confidence, so Leleon Vanua Democratic Party proposal is that instead of having just a formal system in place, we should also think about incorporating our traditional governance system into play so we have two systems working together a one. we have chiefs that look after the governance of rural societies and its actually the chiefs that do customary reconciliation in terms of resolving issues and disputes in Vanuatu.”

According to Thomas, through the traditional system, women are part of the social fabric of Vanuatu society and they have a place in decision making.

She said through this system that already exists, they can make a change.