National Youth and Women’s Parliament to Boost Knowledge and Confidence of Future Leaders

Tonga hosts its fifth youth and second women’s parliament to promote engagement in national politics

29 October 2021
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga

Nuku’alofa, Tonga 29 October 2021 – 28 youth living in the Kingdom of Tonga aged between 25 to 34 years with two aged between 14 to 18 years will join 26 women aged 25 and above to take over the parliament. These representatives will be part of the country’s fifth youth and second women’s parliament as part of the Kingdom’s goal to build a modern, inclusive and interactive parliament.

The youth have been part of three days of orientation to practice deliberation on motions and a petition as part of their preparation for the two days of parliament sitting which took place from 28 to 29 October. The women’s parliament will follow from 4 to 5 November.

Jane Langilangi, 16, of ‘Eua had been assigned a Tonga Youth Parliament special reserved seat for the 14 to 18 years age group. She has learnt about the Parliament in school, however, after the three days orientation, she found it an eye opening and life changing experience for her. She wants to pursue her dreams to become a female politician in the future.  

“I would love to start my career as a lawyer for Tonga Parliament and become a Member of Parliament when I am matured to run for Parliament. My advice for young people in Tonga is to not belittle yourself and always stand up for what you believe in,” she said.

Tonga’s parliament continues to support initiatives that encourages youth and women’s participation as well as increasing awareness of their roles in society.

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua, while opening the Tonga Youth Parliament, highlighted that the initiative provides an important platform for Youth Members of Parliament to discuss issues that is of national importance and challenging in their lives.

“It is with much anticipation that such an initiative will broaden their knowledge and understanding of Parliament’s roles and functions and enhance their interest in politics,” he added.

Lord Speaker Fakafanua expressed his sincere appreciation to the continuous support of donor partners including UNICEF, UNFPA and UNDP for making Tonga Youth Parliament possible in efforts to empower young people for they are the future leaders.

“We are proud to be continuing this partnership with the Office of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga in ensuring that youth and women’s participation and voices can be heard at national decision-making platforms,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “This is exactly the type of boost of inspiration and empowerment that we need to show that today’s generations, especially the women, are willing and ready to lead now as well as in the future.”

"It is simply extraordinary to see the advancement of rights-based empowerment of young people in Tonga.  Positioning youth at the centre of decision making is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, gender equity, and social justice.  Empowering young women to become leaders across all domains from the community to the parliament will be transformational for Tonga and the Pacific.  UNFPA is fully committed to supporting the realization of the demographic dividend in Tonga through investing in youth leadership and participation to effect change,” said Dr Jennifer Butler, UNFPA Pacific’s Director and Representative.

“In young democracies like Tonga and the Pacific, youth play an important role in shaping the politics and future of their countries. The Tonga Youth Parliament and Women Practice Parliament provide a novel opportunity for young Tongans to learn about their political system and get ready to play their part. With climate threat looming over the Pacific countries and in the backdrop COP26, they are utilizing these platforms to highlight critical issues affecting them and their futures,” said Levan Bouadze, the Resident Representative of UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji. “We congratulated Lord Speaker and the Legislative Assembly’s leadership in consistently organizing these forums and giving youth life-changing opportunities.”

These parliament sittings will see the young generation discuss issues that not only concerns them, but the nation as a whole, such as illicit drugs-related social issues, climate change, education, health and good governance.

This youth and women led parliament is facilitated by the Legislative Assembly of Tonga with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP’s Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI) Project, funded by New Zealand, supports Tonga Legislative Assembly and other legislatures of the Pacific Island Countries to increase transparency and accountability in the Pacific countries. 

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Notes to Editors:

About the Parliament of Tonga:

Tonga Parliament is located in the only island kingdom in the South Pacific. It is a unicameral legislature which comprises of 26 elected parliamentarians and up to 4 unelected Members (by virtue of Ministerial appointments). 17 MPs are elected by the people and nine are elected by the Nobles. Members are elected to serve in office over a four-year term. Tonga Parliament has no political party system.

About UNDP:

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. The UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji serves 15 countries and territories in the Pacific, as part of the 177-country office UNDP network, and offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.  www.pacific.undp.org

About UNFPA:

UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. The organization was created in 1969, the same year the United Nations General Assembly declared “parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”

UNFPA’s Pacific Sub-Regional Office located in Suva, Fiji, supports 14 countries and territories.  For more information on UNFPA Pacific and its work on women and young persons, follow UNFPAPacific on Twitter and Facebook.

 

For more information, please contact:

Gloria Pole'o, Parliament of Tonga, gloria.poleo@parliament.gov.to

Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137, zukhan@unicef.org

Navinesh Kumar, UNFPA Pacific, Tel: +679 9932259, nkumar@unfpa.org

Tomoko Kashiwazaki, UNDP, tomoko.kashiwazaki@undp.org

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 9988137

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/pacificislands/

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook