THE Lord Speaker of Parliament today officially opened the ‘She Leads Fale Alea’ ‘o Tonga 2021 hosted by the Legislative Assembly of Tonga in partnership with Take The Lead Tonga. This event coincided with the commemoration of International Day of the Girl, held annually on October 11.
Tonga Parliament and ‘She Leads Fale Alea’ join millions of girls around the world today in asserting their power as agents of change, under the theme “My Voice, Our Equal Future.’
In his keynote address Lord Fakafanua challenged 30 young female leaders of ‘She Leads Fale Alea ʻo Tonga’ to be fearless and confident to share their voices. He encouraged the young female leaders of the fourth cohort of ‘She Leads Fale Alea’ to challenge the current gloomy trends of women’s representation in political participation.
Internationally, only 25 percent of all national parliamentarians are women and only 12 percent of our world leaders are female. Despite these statistics - when females lead, they are persistent in pursuing opportunities that would capture the true leadership characters of women, they empower, and they lead by example.
Lord Fakafanua also spoke highly of the participants in the similar program last year. He was really impressed with young entrepreneurs who started their own small businesses to support themselves. He praised their effort to have been empowered, developed and to continue to grow as leaders.
Lord Fakafanua also identified Tonga’s very own female leaders, who have been trail blazers and good role model in politics for our young women, such as Her Royal Highness Princess Mele Siuʻilikutapu, Papiloa Foliaki, ʻAlisi Taumoepeau and other former women parliamentarians.
Former female MP, Lepolo Taunisila who attended today’s program said ‘She Leads Fale Alea’ is a great initiative in terms of encouraging political interests and participation of young girls, whereas before, girls were never interested in politics. She said ‘practice parliaments’ inspire them (young girls) and builds their confidence and aspiration to become political leaders’.
Meanwhile Rita Prema, a business operator said our youth are our future therefore ‘(SLP)’ is a good initiative because it gives the girls opportunity to voice their opinions and perspective as young female leaders. ‘It also empowers them to be innovative, inquisitive and become the best version they can be as individuals when they grow up,’ said Rita Prema.
21-year-old ‘Ana Havea who is the Prime Minister of She Leads Fale Alea is happy to be a part of the program. The Revenue and Custom staff said at first, she was not interested in politics, but she is thankful for the opportunity to improve her public speaking skills and to build her self-confidence.
‘Akanete Paunga, SLF Finance Minister and National Planning also shared the same insight but was also grateful to learn more about the Parliament’s roles and functions after the one-week orientation.
‘She Leads Fale Alea’ is proudly sponsored by the UNFPA, Digicel, BSP Bank, Puloka Construction, David Wu, Robina Nakao, Café Escape and A&A Retailer.