Jiko Luveni: from Dentist to the Speaker of the Parliament
How to be recognised by society and achieve success in politics
Jiko Luveni became the first woman to chair the Parliament of Fiji. She faced criticism, discrimination, and misunderstanding of the society while going on the top of her career. Jiko Luveni told about her path from a dentist to the Speaker of the Parliament and obstacles she passed.
She dreamt to be a dentist since her very childhood. She became the first woman in her country who achieved huge success in this profession. Doctor Luveni is one of three women to possess the highest award in the sphere of dentistry. Besides, she always wanted to serve her country as a parliamentarian. She had a long way to go in order to achieve her goal.
Jiko Luveni was working in the United Nations Population Fund for 15 years. She took an early retirement in 2003 and focused again on medical activity helping people and maintaining contact with the Fijians. The doctor created an organisation increasing awareness about AIDS in order to reduce the incidence of infection. After some time, she was invited to take the position of Minister for Women. Ms. Luveni accepted and continued communicating with people at the national level. Later she was appointed the Speaker of the Parliament and it was the peak of her career.
“I had some difficulties at the beginning of my career as the Speaker. I had never taken a position in the Parliament before that. I learnt to work under new conditions in the process of working. However, it was not that hard taking into account internal Parliament rules”, remembers Jiko Luveni.
As a Speaker, Ms. Luveni had to make contacts with different institutions across the country and carefully examine issues of national and global agendas. Moreover, the new position required communication with high-level officials. That is why Jiko Luveni had to pay special attention to improvement of communication skills and learning rules of etiquette. She attended courses of public speaking, read books on that topic, watched performances of different speakers on the internet, and tried to visit events where she could not only listen to professional speakers but also take part in discussions.
At the beginning of her political career, she was criticised and discriminated. Those were people from the opposition and those who didn’t know much about how parliamentary activity is carried out. Then Ms. Luveni decided to establish Civic Education and Media Unit of Parliament. It realises projects that help people learn more about work and functions of the Parliament and competence of its Speaker.
Ms. Luveni made every effort to explain people that all Parliament activities are aimed at improving the life of society. Unit’s projects were welcomed because they helped better understand actions of the authorities. Jiko Luveni still receives gratitude for her activity from the society and mass media. It motivates her to go further.
Having become the first woman Speaker of the Parliament Ms. Luveni understood that she should contribute to her maximum potential. “I want to be a mentor for other women and make them believe that they also can take leading positions. It is important for me to unite women in striving for gender equality and empowerment. The whole country will benefit from women’s empowerment”, explains Jiko Luveni.
Ms. Luveni wished all women to always remember that they are talented and have a certain mission. She shared that her success consisted of three components: innovation, creativity, and self-confidence.
The speaker has overcome many difficulties including pressure by the opposition due to her determination and fortitude as well as support of her family. “My husband says I serve our country and if the people need me I should respond to that call. That is why I would be happy to take the position of the Speaker of Fijian Parliament in the case of re-election”.
Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Yan Zarubin