The session aimed to support political parties in creating equal opportunities for participation of women and advise on effective gender equality mechanisms in the run up to 2017 National General Elections.
In 2016, the Pacific island countries as a region still have the lowest number of female parliamentarians in the world.
Papua New Guinea currently has three women MPs; Kiribati two; Tonga, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Nauru each have one, and the Federated States of Micronesia and Vanuatu currently have no women in Parliament.
To address the issue and enhance women’s political participation, UNDP-led session focused on gender mainstreaming strategies with an aim to help the parties to open up to women and to see why it is important to support women in the elections or more generally to empower women just as the men.
The event participants included political parties’ representatives across Papua New Guinea, as well as Solomon Islands.
"Political parties are better placed to promote the political empowerment of women as members, party executives and as candidates Political parties have plans in place but have not implemented these plans to empower women. The Registry will work with the parties to ensure that this area is addressed and this will form part of the long term work for the Registry" noted Registrar of Political Parties, Dr Alphonse Gelu.
“Equitable participation of women in politics is essential to sustaining democracy and development. The UN team in Papua New Guinea is committed to supporting women’s empowerment and providing women with the necessary tools to fully participate in all aspects of the political process” said Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in PNG.
Gender mainstreaming session was part of the wider workshop organized for political parties in PNG as part of the preparations for the 2017 National General elections by the Registrar of Political Parties & Candidates Commission. Along with gender mainstreaming it focused on party branding and political campaigning.
UNDP shared its expertise on political party regulation, focusing on internal party democracy as a means to enhance gender equality. Participants expressed an interest in organizing a similar events gathering reform-minded political party representatives from the region to network further and develop joint strategies.
This activity takes place as part of UNDP’s ongoing support for women’s political participation in the Pacific which is funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme. In addition to UNDP, the workshop was supported by the Australian Liberal Party and the United States Embassy in PNG.