Tonga heads to the polls as a record number of women stand for election
November 26, 2014 5:52 pm
Tongans will head to the polls today for their national election, with a record of 16 female candidates hoping to win a seat in parliament.
Voting will start at 9am local time when 169 polling stations open across the country.
It is only the second election the country has held since 2010 when voters were given the right to elect a majority of Legislative Assembly members.
A record number of women have also registered to vote in the poll. However, so far only four women have managed to get elected in Tonga since 1951.
Tonga’s National Centre for Women and Children coordinator, Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, said the odds were stacked against the female candidates.
“It’s going to be a really challenging hurdle… for all the women who have courageously put their hand up to run in this year’s elections,” she said.
Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki said women in Tonga were often swayed by their husbands or partners when it came to decision making.
She said research showed more than 80 per cent of women in intimate partner relationships had to get the permission of a partner or husband before accessing health services.