Lata served as a councillor with Sigatoka Town Council. She now enjoys her role as a full time mother and continues to help the community through her husband’s health clinic.
“Being passionate is only half the battle won…it is still very important to know the workings of council. A lot can be achieved if there is a collective effort.”
I grew up in Sigatoka where my father was a businessman who was involved with a lot of social organisations. He was also very politically active. I attended Dudley High School in Suva. Prior to holding office, I served on an advisory council and was also a member of the Lion’s Club and Mother Sangam. Through these organisations I worked for the betterment of my community. This included the right to a safe and regular water supply and better opportunities for destitute families.
The big decision
From an early age I was inspired by the involvement of my father in community activities. I became very interested in political and social issues as a result.
My support mechanism is my family. After I was married, my husband also encouraged and supported me to participate in community and civic affairs. My involvement in the local community, through the Lion’s Club and Mother Sangam, also provided support for me to be elected for two terms.
Many of my male counterparts did not attach importance to or support me in the issues and concerns that I raised, for example the environment. Although a lot of discussion, debate and resolutions were made in meetings, not much materialized on the issues that I raised. What the men councillors decided was important were done first and senior male councillors would ultimately decide on development projects. It was frustrating that politics too often overtook priority issues.
I believe I am a good organiser and networker. These skills, alongside my determination to resolve issues that concern ratepayers, were essential to me resolving issues. During my term I chaired the festival committees (Diwali and Christmas) and also served as deputy mayor.
Words of Advice
Although I received no training before standing for local government, I feel it is very important for anyone that wishes to contest an election to understand the workings of local government. It is important to familiarise oneself with the workings of council before taking the big step because it can become very frustrating once elected when you don’t get results. Being passionate is only half the battle.
One also has to have a lot of patience and determination to carry on advocating on behalf of ratepayers when there are insufficient resources and competing interests and priorities. However, women must make every effort to know their rights and fully participate in the civic life of their towns and cities.