SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya Speaks Out

The SODELPA member of Parliament said: “It’s all about status. How do I deal with such stereotype behaviour especially in our modern day age?”
08 Mar 2019 10:00
SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya Speaks Out
Opposition MP, Lynda Tabuya.

Opposition Whip Lynda Tabuya says as a young woman who is not a chief she faces challenges.

The SODELPA member of Parliament said: “It’s all about status. How do I deal with such stereotype behaviour especially in our modern day age?”

She was speaking at the Westpac International Women’s Day celebration and launch of the 2019 Westpac Women and Girls Education Grants in Suva yesterday.

While she could not be reached to elaborate more on the issue it is understood she was referring to how she was

treated after she left the People’s Democratic Party to join SODELPA and quickly rose through the ranks.

But internally she was viewed with suspicion and contempt by the conservative right wing which dominates the party and does not like her style. This, even after she polled the second highest votes in the party and fifth highest nationally in last year’s General Election.

It spilled into the open during the ceremonial opening of Parliament last year when she was criticised for her dress standard. Her critics said it failed to conform to traditional and cultural values.

In response, guest speaker Malcolm Fialho, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, said women MPs needed to work on themselves and get resilient.

“They need to pick a good man or good allies to work with.”

Mr Fialho said they could not do things all by themselves.

“Women MPs need strong allies and they need to challenge their parties because their parties have to put them in a safe seat.

“Because you cannot just put a woman in a seat, and if it’s not a safe seat she’s not going to win. Women need to be put in a safe seat”

Mr Fialho said the event organised by Westpac was very much about extending the conversation on equity, diversity and agenda.

“We often have conversation run by Diversity and Inclusion, and what I tried to do is broaden and deepen the conversation.”

Questions asked

Lawyer Ana Bolabiu- what are some steps women in leadership should take to find and allow other women and encourage them to take up the leadership role?

Mr Fialho: We need to be constantly vigilant in recruiting young women. We can use our professionals’ network by encouraging them to the job market.

Jenny Seeto successful business- woman and chair of the Fiji Mediation Centre encouraged women to talk about change.

“I had workshops with chiefs, doctors, shoe shine boys, business people and people from whole different sectors,” she said.

“And later I had the workshop with the Roko Tuis’ and they say the women are this – they prepare the tea and they fan us.

“And when I speak to the women, they say we wake up early morning we go to the farm, we cook and the men eat and drink grog. So this is in the village setting.

“What I want to say to you all business women today is to talk about change.

“Many of us here today hold high positions in our company and in management.

“I encourage each and every one of you, to take what you’ve learned in the business skill, go back to your community and practise it. Because that is where change is.

“Back in the days a lot of our CEOs were the indigenous men, and I had to challenge them, a lot of indigenous men who attended the workshop, what are they doing for their community. They are in the perfect position to change the thinking at the village level.

“We need to change the culture and we need to take extra steps. Don’t just sit back and talk.

“Each and every one of us need to go back to their community or to our village setting and do change at a much faster pace.”

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