The Fiji Women's Rights Movement is today making an urgent call on the Minister for Education, Aseri Radrodro and the teacher unions to respect the decision of the Public Service Commission in appointing Doctor Selina Kuruleca as the Permanent Secretary for Education.
FWRM Executive Director, Nalini Singh asks what are the justifications of the Minister and the unions rejecting Dr Kuruleca’s appointment to the Education Ministry, and why do they think they have to be consulted when the law clearly states otherwise.
Singh says Section 126 (1) of the constitution confirms that ministers are not required to be consulted about appointment of Permanent Secretaries.
She says the FWRM is disappointed with the way the appointment has been handled by the Minister for Education and the union representatives.
Singh says Dr Kuruleca, whose appointment was confirmed by the Public Service Commission and due to have begun work on July 3rd, has been rejected by her own Minister, an act that not only undermines the qualifications and capabilities of Dr Kuruleca - a professional woman in her own right - but also the decision made by PSC.
Singh says they are disappointed with this turn of events.
She says in the line-up of new PS appointments, we only have three women.
Singh says Dr Kuruleca has contributed immensely to the fields of teaching and mental health. She asks why is she not the right candidate for the PS role.
Singh says this reeks of gender bias, and Dr Kuruleca is not being given the chance to take up her post, despite meeting the criteria and deemed the best candidate.
She says gender prejudices and stereotypes are often a major barrier of women at work, issues that women's rights groups have continuously advocated against as it prevents the recognition of women's contributions and limits their achievements at work.
The FWRM says they are saddened that issues around Dr Kuruleca’s appointment have been thrashed about in the media after processes have been followed as there could have been better ways to address this issue.
FWRM believes that to truly provide an opportunity for women's advancement into leadership positions, organisations including the state ministries and departments need to overcome gender bias in the workplace and other professional settings.
A research on leadership perceptions in Fiji conducted by FWRM in 2022 found that 69 percent of 906 survey respondents indicated that “gender stigmatisation” decreased a woman’s chances of being 'elected' as a leader.
A combined 74% (agreed and strongly agreed) that performance rewards are easily awarded to men, while women have to work twice as much.
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