Female political participation needs boost

Political leaders, government and voters have been urged to commit to real change to progress female participation in politics.

The United Nations Development Programme has joined the Registrar of Political Parties, the Ombudsman Commission and the highest polling female candidate in the national elections, Rufina Peter, to issue the appeal.

This comes after the 2017 10th Parliament sitting saw the absence of woman MPs.

Assistant Representative for UNDP and Head of Governance, Julie Bukikun, said for the first time in 25 years, since the 1992 elections, more female candidates were nominated for elections than ever before; 167 of 3,332 were female candidates.

“Papua New Guinea is now one of five countries in the world that has no female members of Parliament and is now below the global average of 23 percent female representation in Parliament,” she said in a joint press conference.

Emanuel Pok, on behalf of Dr. Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Political Parties, said women need to have full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making.

He adds that to achieve this, important stakeholders need to do more to empower women by making positive commitments through changes in laws, policies and actions.

“Particularly, we need senior male leaders to work with women to drive change in words and actions if we are going to be successful in addressing inequalities in leadership.”

Chief Ombudsman, Michael Dick, commended the women who stood against all odds to represent their provinces and regions.

“Many work in difficult circumstances with few resources to challenge strong traditional and customary norms.”

He adds that evidence shows that when we engage in women political leadership, it has a positive flow on effects; from improved livelihoods to increased economic growth and reduction in corruption.

The representatives speaking today called for further structural changes, including considering introducing reserved seats for women in parliament and quotas for women in political parties.

Reforms in legislation and policies around the world have had an impact on increasing women’s participation in Parliament and in leadership roles.

Annette Kora