Women of Fiji give us many reasons to be proud and grateful – Rabuka
We are falling far short of the number of women that should be sitting in parliament - PM

Women of Fiji give us many reasons to be proud and grateful – Rabuka

We are falling far short of the number of women that should be sitting in parliament - PM

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 08/03/2023
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and his wife Sulueti Rabuka. Photo: Fiji Government

Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka says the women of Fiji give us many reasons to be proud and grateful, and he is very happy to honour approximately half our population as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

Rabuka says we see in women wisdom, compassion, and understanding.

He says increasingly women occupy positions normally considered the domain of men.

Rabuka also offered his congratulations to Salote Panapasa, Acting Commissioner of the Corrections Service, the first woman to serve in that position. He says she has a big job to bring discipline back into the ranks; to ensure our prisons are managed humanely and to prepare inmates for returning to society.

Rabuka adds in early February at Seaqaqa, Virisila Silivere captured national attention with her extraordinary rescue of six passengers from a car sinking in floodwaters.

He says swimming in the rising water Virisila brought to safety a mother, three sons and two men.

Rabuka says Virisila, herself a mother, is a beacon of bravery.

He also says he has seen pictures of women from the interior of Viti Levu carrying their children through the waist-high fast-flowing waters of a river.

Rabuka says it was the only way they could get them to school.

He says that was the bravery and determination of mothers looking after the needs of their children.

The Prime Minister also says when Parliament was in the grip of high drama on February 17th over certain statements by the Leader of the Opposition, Voreqe Bainimarama, two of the Government’s women MPs were at the frontline as members of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.

He says Lenora Qereqeretabua, Deputy Speaker of the House and Assistant Minister for Housing and Local Government, is the Committee’s chair.

Her colleague Lynda Tabuya, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, serves with her as a member.

Rabuka says it was a difficult and tense time. He says the nation was fixated on the fate of the Leader who, ultimately, was suspended from Parliament for three years.

Rabuka says Lenora and Lynda did not wilt under the pressure, they handled their responsibilities with discernment and skill.

He also says Parliament has other newly-elected women who deserve our congratulations - Sashi Kiran, Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation; Alitia Bainivalu, Assistant Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, and Opposition Backbencher Premila Kumar.

He also highlighted that we are falling far short of the number of women that should be sitting in the House.

Rabuka says their goal is for 30 percent representation.

He also says on February 24th the country embraced a woman of Fiji who had suffered for her beliefs in democracy and freedom.

Dr Padma Lal returned from Australia after a long, forced exile.

Rabuka says she brought with her the ashes of her late husband Professor Brij Lal, who had also been denied entry to the country of his birth.

He says she knew Brij had wanted to return to his birthplace at Tabia, Labasa, for his final rites.

At the farewell ceremony for Professor Lal, Rabuka says Padma told with simplicity and power how she and her husband were locked out of Fiji.

He says they were asked to apologise by the Fiji dictatorship for their stand in favour of democracy but through the courage of their convictions, they refused to abandon their beliefs. He says they paid the price.

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