As the President and Founder of Talitha Project, I present, on behalf of the entire organization, our full support of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW as it is more popularly known. Our vision and goals of empowering young women are well aligned with the clauses and terms outlined by the convention.
We have been working with young women and girls for seven years; have had over 2,000 girls attend our camps, trainings and seminars. Throughout that time, we’ve dealt with 155 young mothers (ages 13-25 years) of who have faced some very heartbreaking struggles. These issues include rejection from family due to teenage pregnancy, refusal of reentry into school due to prior pregnancy, domestic violence, rape, incest cases and a prevalent low self-esteem among others.
The convention was formed under the UN principle of "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women". With that principle in mind, we fail to see how the convention is of any harm whatsoever to our Tongan way of life, or our progression towards being a better society. The way forward for us as a nation, is as equals. At Talitha Project, we strive for the equality of men and women as we believe that in God’s eyes we are all the same, in that we are His children. CEDAW’s purpose and establishment is reinforcement of that belief, and we will stand by it in full support.
I hope and pray for the Prime Minister and his cabinet Ministers will not waver but to stand strong in their decision to ratify the convention. We are however, disappointed that a few people have misinterpreted the convention and caused a great misunderstanding amongst the Tongan people when in fact the government has repeatedly addressed that they have made reservations on Articles 2, 10, 12, 14 and 16.
I cannot, for my life, understand why people are making an uproar over the convention.
- every Friday after school we anticipate the fighting of boys from rival high schools;
- every year women and children in Tonga die from domestic violence;
- Tonga still retains corporal punishment of children as a legal sanction for a crime;
- and the list goes on.
The question is why are we not concerned over on these terrible things and taking action to make our society a safer place for women and children?
It seems to me that the people are scared of information because the truth demands a response – this means that you have to give up ignorance and apply wisdom! The greatest enemy of a person in life is not the devil but ignorance – lack of knowledge!
Once again, CEDAW does not in any way, shape or promote or insist on same sex marriage and abortion. This is an atrocious misreading based on unwarranted assumptions. To help clarify the true intentions of CEDAW, feel free to pick up a copy of the Convention from our office in the 2nd floor of Uata Building.