Lack of Women Leaders in Local Government in FIJI Islands


There are multiple spheres present in decision-making process that shows women are still far away from conquering each dimension of nation. In Fiji, there are little to no women representative in cabinet ministry. There are many aspects to reasons for such lack. Even if actual reasons are pinpointed, there will still be huge dearth in human mind regarding women in politics perception. Current proposal is based on this lack in governing bodies. Present proposal incorporates current scenario, reforms, issues, policies and focus. Furthermore, this research proposal will incorporate research questions and methodology of overall proposal.

2. Fiji and National Government

Fiji is an island nation, otherwise termed as an archipelago, which contains 330 islands and islets. Out of those 330 islands, only 110 are inhabited permanently. Fiji is a part of UNO and goes by the name Republic of Fiji (Akram-Lodhi 2016, p. 26). Current President of this island nation is George Konrote and Prime Minister is Frank Bainimarama. George has been elected as President since 2015 and Frank is Prime Minister since 2007. Both are from same political party and that is Fiji First. Earlier they were a part of British Monarchy and stayed in their protectorate for long time. However, now they are a republic country that holds their own election. When compared to other republic countries, it has been evident that women participation is very less in legislation. Apart from Veena Bhatnagar, Rosy Akbar, Mereseini Vuniwaqa and Premila Kumar, there is no other women member in current cabinet of ministers. The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement or FWRM is a part of the leadership programme of young women. Local government of Fiji is the heart of the life of women as they life, work, shop, learn and socialize from this place. As per the rule of government of Fiji both women and men should be treated equally in terms of making decision and other things of local government (, (2016).

3. Reforms

There is a need to understand how much women are underappreciated in Fiji. It is evident from 2005’s elections, when there were 12 municipalities; there was not a single woman representative (, 2019). It was a landslide victory for men and after that; a few reforms were created so that women representation increases. Fiji, an archipelago, which has a GDP of $3545.7, has least amount of women representative. Even after active participation from women, it is seen that very less are being selected or are getting fewer ministries. Their House of representative breakdown shows that there are 63 men and only 8 women (, 2019). Their senate has 27 men and a meagre 5 women. Average women on board are very less and current numbers stand at 20% (, 2019).

Fiji has its own forum where women are motivated to take part in multiple positions, be it politics or executive. According to Howard (2019, p. 17), there are reforms and current uprising of women voice is being heard. However, there are still many gaps where these women get strangled and lay astray until they take back their participation. Fiji Women’s Right Movement (FWRM) is a reform that commits to the ideology of including women in better situation and that includes politics (, 2016). The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement or FWRM is a multicultural and authentic organisation which is also nongovernmental is totally committed to reduce gender discrimination in Fiji. However, this organisation has few objectives which are mentioned below:

  1. This organisation aims at addressing issues which are affecting human rights of women in Fiji as well as their opportunities and status.
  2. This organisation also aiming at improving several governmental policies so that women in Fiji can live their life peacefully with freedom.
  3. FWRM aims to develop equal access and opportunities for women
  4. FWRM also aims to ensure that policies which are developed for women are well managed. Moreover, it also planned to develop leadership opportunities for women and strengthening programmes for women

However, the government of Fiji is divided in three segments national, provincial and municipal government. On the other hand, local government of Fiji is made of one tier only in urban areas of Fiji. Local government of Fiji was developed first in 1877 and in the year 1972 the local government act of Fiji was developed for the first time (, (2016). In terms of the types of local government of Fiji three different types of local government can be found. Three types of local government are provincial or rural council, Rural Local Authorities and Municipal councils. However, as far as women’s role in the government of Fiji is concerned itr can be stated that Mrs. Maureen Wright was the first women in history who was elected in local government in 1967. She became the Mayor of Lautoka City Council. As per the current report, the last local government election in Fiji was held in 2005. However, at that time no women were elected in any of the three stages of local government. It shows the democracy in the governmental structure of Fiji. In 2005 to 2008 the total numbers of women elected for leadership in local government was 23. In terms of men who were elected for local government leadership in 2005 to 2008 were 135. Gender discrimination in Fiji is quite visible in this segment.

4. Issues

Before getting acquainted with issues that are arising in case of current reforms, there is a need to see how much has been the participation of women in politics been. There are 13 provinces currently and at each place, women take participation. However, results show that each woman are not that lucky. In Ba, there have consistently been 2 women and 13 men in overall participation. In Labasa, out of 12 seats, there has never been a single women representative until 2009 (, 2016). In Lami and Lautoka, similar trends like Ba are seen. In Tavua, till now, there has been no integration of women in representation area. Issues that are evident in most of Fiji are related to inequality and that takes place in their very homes (Charan, Kaur and Singh 2016). They are not motivated and mindsets of people are still backdated. Following table is enough to show what women go through in their daily lives:

Issue Percentage
Physical abuse 66%
Beaten during pregnancy 26%
Marital rape 48%
Rape 13%
Lack of documentation 74%

Table 1: Current issues for Women in Fiji

(Source:, 2018)

Few of the major barriers for women in Fiji are as follows:

  1. The culture and belief of people if Fiji is still stuck to gender stereotyping. Hence, the young women of Fiji have planned to conduct several gender sensitization programs so that this issue can be reduced.
  2. People from government as well as local people of Fiji thinks that aged people are good to rule the government hence Age prejudice has become an issue for young women politicians (, 2016)
  3. People of Fiji does not have much knowledge about local government hence, the young women politicians are developing policies and plans so that these people can be educated enough to understand the changes and development in local government.

5. Policies

Currently, government of Fiji is motivating to rise at the occasion and increase participation. However, it is evident aforementioned data that women are suppressed in their very homes. As cited by Crossley et al. (2017, p. 882), governments are required to help them at grassroots level so that they are motivated much more in this direction. FWRM works in this direction and it has 3 pillars, first being democratisation, second is policy transformation and final is Intergenerational Leadership. They are described as follows:

  1. Democratisation- This pillar of FWRM is based on working towards promotion of democracy in each corner of this nation. Young women are to be encouraged so that their participation in process of democratisation increases (Vunisea 2017, p. 53). Women will be called from their lurching situation and empowered requisitely si that is able to fight current evil and rise to become a better person.
  2. Policy transformation- This pillar focuses on critically assessing current depreciation that is evident in political reforms. Many other constituent groups like Pacific Youth Council (PYC) are also joining hands to promote women well-being. It is being hoped that it will lead to selection of better women participants and they will act as future leaders. After seeing such charismatic women leaders, younger women will also be instigated to take participation in politics.
  3. Intergenerational Leadership- This type of leadership is considered to be a key element in counteracting current discriminations. It will aid in raising awareness regarding women rights from the very basics so that they are motivated to take part in future endeavours like politics (George 2016, p. 81).

Figure 1: FWRM pillars

(Source:, 2016)

6. Focus

Present research proposal will focus current scenario in Fiji politics. Primary motive will be to assess that even if there is a lack of women leaders or not. This lack will be studied in case of local government and possible causal items will be delved with. This study will also focus on how present status of Fiji is directly affecting women and they are unable to enter politics at local level. In case of present proposal, focus of study will be ministers of local government. This will aid in understanding present barriers and how reforms will change present scenario of Fiji. Perception of women will also be one of the parts of this research proposal.

7. Research questions

Following will be the research question for achievement of research aim:

Q1. What are present barriers for women in politics that are stopping them to gain a good position in local government?

Q2. What is present policy related framework on Fiji gender diversity presented by leading parties?

Q3. What is present number of women who take part in local government elections?

Q4. What is present issue that leads to lack of participation in accordance with women?

8. Methodology

8.1 Philosophy

In present research proposal, researcher will incorporate Positivism philosophy. It will be applied since it aids in perfect analysis of unearthed facts and data that is related to dearth of women participation in Fiji politics. This type of philosophy uses logic rather than abstract knowledge and this will be very beneficial for current proposal. Positivism will reject any metaphysics that will arise in formulation of present study (Walliman 2017, p. 36). Finally, this type of philosophy is best suited in these studies as they will aid in better data understanding.

Figure 2: Philosophy

(Source: Walliman 2017, p. 35)

8.2 Approach

In this research proposal, researcher will include Deductive type of research approach. This type of approach is incorporated when there is a need for application of concepts in research. This will further aid in gaining access to all contents of research and that too up to a greater extent. As cited by Fletcher (2017, p. 186), this type of approach will further help in building theory and concept based specification. Understanding about reason why women are less participatory will be better assessed by using this approach.

Figure 3: Approach

(Source: Fletcher 2017, p. 185)

8.3 Design

Present researcher has decided to amalgamate Explanatory type of research design. Explanatory design will be beneficial because it aids in description of occurrences of different incidents and then will also help in understanding underlying reason for them (McCusker & Gunaydin 2015, p. 538). This will also be beneficiary in this research as researcher is eager to what reasons pertain that leads to Fiji women from not taking participation in politics even after requisite reforms and policies.

Figure 4: Design

(Source: McCusker & Gunaydin 2015, p. 538)

8.4 Data source

There are 2 types of data sources and researcher will be taking Primary data source. It will be helpful since it takes first-hand data into consideration rather than old information that have been lying around. According to Cuervo-Cazurra et al. (2017, p. 238), there will be fewer chances of further biases that may arise in future. Primary data sources for present research proposal will be collected via methods like Survey and interview. Then, collected data will be analyzed to satisfy research aim.

Figure 5: Data source

(Source: Cuervo-Cazurra et al. 2017, p. 238)

8.5 Data collection technique

There are 2 types of data collection technique and they are known as Qualitative and Quantitative techniques of data collection (Dumay & Cai 2015, 136). In this research proposal, researcher will be incorporating both qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques. In case of Primary qualitative data analysis, researcher will formulate interview questions. In regards to Primary quantitative data analysis technique, researcher will use survey questionnaires.

Figure 6: Data collection

(Source: Dumay & Cai 2015, 132)

8.6 Sample

Sample size for current research proposal is predefined. There are 2 methods that have been chosen. In case of Primary quantitative, a sample size of 139 participants will be chosen. They will be citizens of Fiji and they will be subjected to survey questionnaires. In case of Primary qualitative, 3 members from Fiji’s local government will be chosen, preferably Mayor, and they will be subjected to interview questions

9. Conclusion

From the discussion formulated above, it is concluded that there is an utter requirement for researchers to delve in issues like lack of women representation in national political scenario. In Fiji, there are many issues from which women are going through and all of them are at ground level. There are reforms and policies that encourage women to take part in politics. However, it is evident that very less number of women finally achieves a position. Research questions have been identified and research methodology is also created. Survey questionnaires and interview questions are to be made and researcher will go on a voyage to delve in reasoning of research aim. Finally, reasons will be kept at centre so that it is known why women are not leaving their comfort for self and societal fight.

Reference list


Akram-Lodhi, A.H. ed., (2016). Confronting Fiji Futures. ANU Press.

Walliman, N., (2017). Research methods: The basics. Routledge.


Charan, D., Kaur, M. & Singh, P., (2016). Indigenous Fijian women’s role in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. Pacific Asia Inquiry7(1), pp.106-122.

Crossley, M., Koya Vaka’uta, C.F., Lagi, R., McGrath, S., Thaman, K.H. & Waqailiti, L., (2017). Quality education and the role of the teacher in Fiji: mobilising global and local values. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education47(6), pp.872-890.

Cuervo‐Cazurra, A., Mudambi, R., Pedersen, T. & Piscitello, L., (2017). Research methodology in global strategy research. Global Strategy Journal7(3), pp.233-240.

Dumay, J. & Cai, L., (2015). Using content analysis as a research methodology for investigating intellectual capital disclosure: a critique. Journal of Intellectual Capital16(1), pp.121-155.

Fletcher, A.J., (2017). Applying critical realism in qualitative research: methodology meets method. International Journal of Social Research Methodology20(2), pp.181-194.

George, N., (2016). ‘Lost in Translation’: Gender Violence, Human Rights and Women’s Capabilities in Fiji. Gender Violence, p.81.

Howard, E., (2019). Effective Support for Women’s Leadership in the Pacific: Lessons from the Evidence.

McCusker, K. & Gunaydin, S., (2015). Research using qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods and choice based on the research. Perfusion30(7), pp.537-542.

Vunisea, A., (2017). Fiji: women, entry points for gender. Samudra Report, (77), pp.50-56.

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