Women putting aside their political differences to come together was the message at a special lunch held at the Cook Islands National Council of Women (CINCW) headquarters in Takuvaine yesterday.
The lunch was held to celebrate the female candidates in this year’s upcoming general election on June 14, which has seen an increase in female candidates on the ballot from last election, up five to 12 in total.
There were five candidates present at the event, including Tina Browne, Margharet Matenga, Teresa Manarangi-Trott, Moeroa Thomas-Tamangaro and Tania Akai-Allsworth.
CINCW president Rebecca Hosking-Ellis said one of the objectives of the event was to honour and recognise all of the female parliamentary candidates.
“On behalf of the NCW and the women of the Cook Islands, we want to wish you God’s blessings during this experience,” said Hosking-Ellis.
“As you embark on this momentous journey, please know that we are here to support you as women candidates, and also as we strive together to encourage equal participation of women in parliament.
“We urge you to stay strong to what you believe in and we honour you for you are brave and awe-inspiring – not only for us today but for future generations.”
Hosking-Ellis also quoted former British prime minister, the late Margaret Thatcher.
“If you want something to be said in politics then refer to a man, but if you want something to be done in politics then refer to a woman.”
Speaker of Parliament Niki Rattle also reiterated the need for further representation in parliament by women.
“We decided to launch our Women Parliamentarian Caucus on International Women’s Day with Jacinda Ardern, the female New Zealand prime minister, present,” said Rattle.
“The vision that we set is that the Cook Islands Women Parliamentarian Caucus is to be a proactive women parliamentarian caucus that advocates for equitable outcomes, all through law making, budgeting, oversights and representation and reaches out to the women in the Cook Islands to increase the women in parliament and politics.”
Rattle also said to the female candidates present yesterday that “when you become a member of parliament you are going to be looking at the women in the Cook Islands and we need to have a focus on that”.
Independent candidate for Titikaveka, Margharet Matenga, praised the opportunity to have this election’s female candidates all together in one room.
“This is what the independent is all about, to get everybody together.”
To come together as one people, to celebrate not only the women’s achievements, but also coming together to tell and to share what we want to do for our people.
“What it is all about is to get all good ideas together. There’s good ideas from all corners, all parties, and this should make us a happy nation, a peaceful nation.”
Independent candidate for Tupapa-Maraerenga, Teresa Manarangi-Trott, said the experience was “enlightening”.
“I’m excited and I believe that we are demonstrating that we are strong people in our own right and we can succeed in anything we put our minds to,” she said.
“In the past, women haven’t taken on a strong role in the political arena and I think this time might be a change that the Cook Islands need.
“I don’t believe there are enough women in those roles and we need to make sure that women become the next MPs of their electorates.”