The Bainimarama military regime has tried to present an image of itself as a reformist government. They call the halving of our sugar production, the bank-rupting of FSC and the impoverishment of thousands of cane farmers ‘reform’.
They even try to tell us that they are leading a charge of feminist reform but the truth is they’re a 2 man band and women are more marginalised than ever. Fiji has slipped four places to 117 among 136 countries in the 2013 World Gender Gap Index, with poor marks for political empowerment and economic participation for women.
Bainimarama’s cabinet has five military men (five out of eleven) and only one woman. Four out of twenty four Permanent Secretaries are women, the same as the number of military men in the ranks of Permanent Secretaries. It’s obvious a military government is a male-dominated government and it goes without saying, an undemocratic government.
The one woman in Cabinet is pure window-dressing. The regime’s propaganda regularly shows her handing out sewing machines in a blatant attempt at vote-buying in iTaukei villages.
When it comes to women in the senior ranks of the civil service the treatment of Mere Vuniwaqa shows us how it works. She was pushed out without explanation for daring to exercise the responsibility of her office, and then replaced by a pip-squeak upstart, chosen for his close links to the illegal A-G.
Actions speak louder than words and the actions of the military regime are clear. They were installed by force of arms and the message they send to everyone is might is right. The sad result of this example is that family violence is worse than ever and home invasions and assaults have not decreased.