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Public Perceptions of Women in Leadership- A research project of the Fiji Women's Forum, in partnership with International Women's Development Agency (IWDA)

Dumaru, Patrina and Pene, Sarah (2014) Public Perceptions of Women in Leadership- A research project of the Fiji Women's Forum, in partnership with International Women's Development Agency (IWDA). [Professional and Technical Reports]

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The Fiji Women’s Forum was convened in 2012 by the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, femLINKpacific, the National Council of Women and the Soqosoqo Vakamarama iTaukei. The objective of the Fiji Women’s Forum is to give women’s organisations space to collectively develop strategies to increase the number of women elected to parliament upon a return to democratic rule. This study was commissioned under the Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women (FLOW) programme, a four year multi-country programme funded by the Government of the Netherlands, coordinated in the Pacific by the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA), and implemented in Fiji in partnership with the Fiji Women’s Forum, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), femLINKpacific, and Commonwealth Local Government Forum Pacific. Its purpose was to provide the Fiji Women’s Forum with information on public perceptions of leadership and women in political leadership, in order to guide and inform the Women’s Forum and constituent organisations regarding directions for voter education and advocacy for greater female representation in politics. The study comprised a survey questionnaire administered to 1211 men and women in rural and urban areas in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, 25 focus group discussions (with a total of 187 participants) and 8 key informant interviews. This was the first study in Fiji to explore community views about women in politics and leadership more generally. The findings provide a snapshot of attitudes and perspectives prior to the September 2014 election. Some significant findings of the study include: • 81% of respondents agree that women are underrepresented in Fiji, and 72% think it would be better for the country if there were more women in national government. • Being hardworking, honest and intelligent were the three traits most frequently assessed as being absolutely essentially in a political leader. Over two thirds of respondents stated that these traits are equally true of men and women. • The vast majority of respondents deemed fluency in English (96%) and a university education (89%) to be very important or absolutely essential in a political leader. • The majority of respondents identified cultural barriers (60%), discrimination (59%) and a lack of support at community level (53%) as the major reasons why fewer women than men stand for elections, rather than a lack of education (15%) or experience (19%). • 77% of respondents would not be influenced by a candidate’s sex when casting their vote. 17% of women would prefer to vote for a woman. • 67% of respondents deem it likely or extremely likely that Fiji will have a female Prime Minister within the next ten years, and 65% said they would like to see that happen. The results of the study can be encapsulated in three key statements: 1. The majority of people in Fiji feel that women are under-represented in government and that changing this would be beneficial to the nation as a whole. 2. People recognise that the qualifications and attributes of leadership are not unique to men, but are common to both men and women. 3. Conservative viewpoints that favour male leadership are a small but significant minority in certain demographics; the strongest support for female leadership is to be found amongst women and young people. This research on perceptions of leadership generally and women’s leadership in particular provides important information about current attitudes, how these vary across the population in Fiji, and where change is happening. This will be valuable information to inform future action to support increased representation of women in politics and a baseline against which the success of such efforts can be assessed. The study draws attention to the gender bias that lies at the heart of why women are under-represented in government and the necessity for definitive action to support women’s political participation in order to better reflect the public’s desire for more gender balanced political representation.

Item Type: Professional and Technical Reports
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > Institute of Applied Science
Depositing User: Fulori Nainoca - Waqairagata
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2019 03:22
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2019 03:22

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