Justine Tuatai William
My name is Justine Tuatai William nee Henry. I was born on the 3rd of March 1971 in Rarotonga. My mother is from the island of Manihiki and my father is from the island of Pukapuka.
In 2007 I was approached to run for Council, I thought “Yes, I can do this”, I wanted to see how things work in Council and I knew that I could contribute to the decision making. I wanted to show our women that our opinions do count, and that our job is not just to be a housewife or mother, we have a voice too, luckily there were already women who had served on the Island Council who had also inspired me to stand up and do this.
I was nervous during my first meeting because I did not know how my colleagues would react to me, my colleagues in Council that year were all Males and they were also my Uncles and cousins.
I kept thinking “Would they listen and respect my views?? Or would they treat me like a child?? But thankfully they welcomed me and also encouraged me in my role and treated me with the same respect as everyone and we became a really great team.
In 2011 I ran again for Council and this time we had more female representation on the Council, this time we had a female Mayor, female Councillor and a female Island Secretary now known as an Executive Officer.
I would like to encourage Women in the Cook Islands to stand up and be counted, do not be afraid
to be part of the decision making, times have changed and women are being respected in their roles, the only thing holding us back is fear! Fear of the unknown! Will my family and community support me?? We will never know until we try, we need to build up our confidence in ourselves and give our support to other women who are in there, fighting for changes to be made for a better future for our families and our islands.