Dr Luveni for proposed party

By ROSI DOVIVERATA Dr Jiko Luveni has confirmed she is available to stand for Parliament in the party Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama will form for next year’s elections. Dr Luveni
12 Jul 2013 11:21


Dr Jiko Luveni has confirmed she is available to stand for Parliament in the party Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama will form for next year’s elections.
Dr Luveni – who had a distinguished career as a dentist – has been a prominent member of the Bainimarama Government, winning praise for women’s groups especially.
Since her appointment in 2008 asMinister for Health and then as Minister for Women and Social Welfare, she describes her work experience this way:
“It is a rewarding experience to work in a most enabling working environment.”
Dr Luveni hails from Nukuni Village in Ono-i-Lau. She served in the civil service for 24 years.
Excerpts from her views in an interview including her work, Government’s performance, women in politics and the role of iTaukei chiefs.

Being the only woman in Cabinet is no big deal for Dr Luveni.
“When I am sitting in Cabinet, being a woman or man is not an issue.
“As long as there is strong justification for the policies I present, I get Cabinet approval just like any other Minister and as long as my Ministry continues to produce evidence of positive results of the programmes we implement, we get increased annual budget allocation the following year,” Dr Luveni said.
“For the first time, our budget for women’s programs has hit more than a million dollars this year from the $300,000 I started with.
“Of course there have been reforms in the Social Welfare scheme that increase our beneficiaries threefold and better targeting of our assistance to the most deserving cases while helping them to graduate from welfare to workfare.”
She said when Government puts priority in serving our vulnerable population groups, it made her work a lot easier.

Women in leadership
Dr Luveni said: “Women are more likely than men to keep sight of the human dimension in problem solving and to favour peaceful resolutions to conflicts – an asset that can be useful in political leadership.”

Women, please stand up
“Contrary to what many eloquent women are saying, many women are generally satisfied with their status at home although they may be retired, highly qualified officials and they have high awareness of political participation and the general call for promoting engagement of women in politics.”
Dr Luveni says her ministry is conducting training in civic education in all Divisions to encourage women and youths to get involved in the political process as well as to prepare to stand for the next election if they wish.
She said they were receiving some expressions of interest.

Women not voting
for women candidates
Dr Luveni agrees that the same mentality has been described by women in many other countries.
“I reckon the onus is on the women ourselves to continue to be natural in our relationships and engagements and not to change our disposition as soon as we ascend a position of leadership and confuse our women friends.”
Thoughts on Ro Teimumu, Lavenia Padarath and Adi Sivia Qoro
“The three women have had a stint in politics and have experienced the ups and downs of the political arena and are continuing with their political aspirations.
“I congratulate them for gaining the faith and confidence of their parties and party members who have put them in the leadership position,” Dr Luveni said.

High chiefs in politics
“I prefer that our high chiefs not be actively involved in politics as parliamentarians.  “Politics can expose our chiefs to the negative elements of mudslinging and abuse that we do not want our chiefs to be exposed to.”
Dr Luveni says our chiefs are God given and hold the highest respect of the people – evident by the most solemn and respectful traditional ceremonies accorded only to them as well as in their daily living.
“They can speak from their chiefly ground to the government with respect to the livelihood needs of their people through their traditional ‘Matanivanua’ and they will be heard.
“They need to maintain their chiefly status and the respect of the people nationwide, given their traditional links to the vanua.”

Final thoughts
“I am hoping that now that we have overcome many political challenges, we have identified the causes of political upheavals and resolved them through strong, unwavering and people centered political leadership, we have emerged victorious in terms of the positive growth of Fiji’s economy, infrastructural developments and improved general well being of our people, we have matured politically to participate in the coming elections with confidence and informed decisions.”

The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni.

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