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Empowering women

The NZ based Centre for Citizenship Education (CCE), supported by the Commonwealth Foundation and others in the PICE programme, has increased attention to skills training about Parliament and government and the media, particularly for women.

In 2010 CCE suggested the empowerment of women should initially target
•    Candidates
•    Journalists
•    MP’s support staff.

For 2014 CCE suggests earlier voter education experience – some targeted at women and other categories of voters and some to all Tongan citizens – be applied to assist all voters use their rights.

The Pacific Islands Citizenship Education Capacity (PICE) programme is developing further initiatives, informed by experience and political will.

Capacity building development for women candidates for 2005 national elections was undertaken with the assistance of AusAID small grants funding through Tonga’s National Women’s Council, Langafonua ‘a Fafine Tonga.

In 2010 the Centre for Citizenship Education (CCE) said the Voter Education plan anticipated by the then Tongan PM’s Civic adviser and the 2005 model offered by Langafonua could be appropriate components of a 2010 Tonga Voter Education project, some undertaken rapidly and some after longer term planning.

A year before Tonga’s 2014 General election CCE refocused on past experience, emphasised here, and the current situation.

CCE, at , has a check list of voter education categories.  In this briefing we apply that checklist to planning a “voter education campaign”, building on Tonga’s 2010 electoral system.  This campaign could be mounted by the organisation charged with running the 2014 election, the Electoral Commission, and others evolving a Tonga Centre for Citizenship Education.  The campaign could include citizenship education, civil society, media, the Office of the Clerk, government ministries, political groups, other agencies or individuals.

In 2010 CCE suggested simple materials describing Tonga’s electoral system to help in voter education. Similar materials, modified to reflect what has been learnt, could be appropriate for 2014 and following general and local elections.


Meet local need: 
Inform all electors about Tongan electoral law and practice to enable fair and free elections

Explain electoral reforms:
What is the current electoral system?

Possible content of citizenship education campaign: Tonga’s current electoral system
The voting system
Number of electorates
Electoral boundaries
Eligible candidates
o Do you have to live in the electorate you contest?
How to announce your candidacy
How to enrol as a voter
What are overseas Tongans voting rights?
What the law says about
•    Announcing election day
•    Managing elections
o Getting on the electoral roll
•    Electoral campaigning
•    Political parties/groupings and independents
•    The media and elections
•    Voting day
•    Disputing the election results
•    Becoming a member of Parliament
•    Forming the government

Style of voter education campaign
•    Provides fair, balanced, accurate information
•    Builds confidence in the electoral law and process
•    Uses Tongan plain language and targets general and special audiences,
•    Draws on advertising techniques, evocative cartoons, special interest media

Possible media for voter education campaign
•    How far can the local postal system reach the target audiences?
•    Which radio, newspapers, television, web and social media?
•    Which government, non-government channels of communication?
•    Which educational institutions
•    Which other traditional and modern channels of communication?

How ngos and other intermediaries could support Tonga’s voter education campaign for the current election
•    Review the first draft content, and amend
•    Define the audience
•    Recommend appropriate media
•    Design campaign plan, including team members, timetable, budget
•    Discuss campaign plan with Tongan government and independent agencies with responsibility for managing aspects of the election
•    Advocate for appropriate financing
•    Take initial, affordable action to mount the campaign
o  Draft content in topic pages
o  Copy pages
o  Release pages to media
o  Release pages to others who may further disseminate e.g. Intermediaries such as journalists, village officers, teachers,

•    Establish a project to plan longer term voter education
o  In journalism training
o  In formal school curricula
– Introduce Kids Voting project
o  In wider citizenship education

How others educate about their electoral system – Voter education

The New Zealand Chief electoral office media information kit contains background material to help with media coverage of General Elections.

In 2008 it included:
•    key dates
•    voting and turnout statistics of previous elections
•    resources relating to voting and campaigning

Find out more:

In the year before the 2014 Tonga General election advocates for the greater political and economic empowerment of women made their voices heard.

Strong voices included

  • Samoa’s Fiame Mata’afa illustrates what Pacific women can do politically

  • Australia helps Tongan observers study the quota option

  • Media pick up empowerment of women story

  • Role of men in empowering Pacific women

  • A new generation of Pacific women MPs emerges?

Langafonua Voter Education, “Increasing Women’s Participation at all levels of decision making.”

Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators (PIANZEA) Network was held at the Fa’onelua Conference in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 2009

USP Democracy and Elections project

Electoral knowledge network

Civic and voter education index

Samoan women’s voter education

Voter education pilot in PNG targets women;jsessionid=axbWzt…?categoryID=349437&lang=en

Voter education that targets women

Training materials

Guide to boost Pacific women participation in legislatures

New Zealand voter education

Voter education for Tokelau

Australian Electoral Commission and AusAID

EU support for Tongan civic education

Commonwealth Foundation voter education grants

Sharing Pacific experience of civics education

NZ social studies online community

Electoral systems and processes

This briefing, from a Pacific Islands Citizenship Education Capacity Building Programme 2013-2016 (PICE) series in from Anthony Haas, Asia Pacific Economic News representative in the NZ Parliament’s Press Gallery and Director, Centre for Citizenship Education), is supported by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Tongan Office of the Clerk.

Opinion is the responsibility of Anthony Haas,, not of the supporting institutions.

Updated 22 October 2013

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