The House must be well represented: Dame Carol

For women in Papua New Guinea, getting into parliament and staying there is a big challenge.

Former parliamentarian Dame Carol Kidu shared this in an exclusive interview with Loop PNG.

Since 1975, only seven women have entered parliament. They are late Nahau Rooney, Dame Josephine Abaijah, and Waliyato Clowes. They were founding female MPs; while Dame Carol Kidu, the lone female elected into office in 2002, remained until 2012. She became the Minister for Community Development for almost all of that time.

After her resignation in 2012, three other women were elected into parliament. Julie Soso as Eastern Highlands Governor, Loujaya Kouza as Lae MP and Delilah Gore as Sohe MP. In 2017, they were all voted out.

Dame Carol said the history of women in politics in the country is quite sad.

“A country without a woman MP is not a democratic country,” she said.

In terms of reserved seats for women in parliament, Dame Carol said there is no committed effort from government to make it come to fruition.

An attempt was made in 2019 to use the existing constitutional provisions to nominate three women to the parliament, but this effort subsequently failed to attract enough support amongst MPs. Subsequently, Dame Carol pushed for reserved seats for women.

In December 2011, the Equality and Participation Act was passed to introduce 22 reserved seats for women in the National Parliament.

However, in order for the Act to be implemented, an amendment to the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections was also necessary. However, the amending Bill failed to attract the necessary number of votes in early 2012. As such, reserved seats for women was not introduced in the 2012 elections.

Dame Carol believes in keeping the House in balance by having at least a woman MP.

“Parliament Haus must be well represented by including women in the chamber. I have tried my best to push for the reserved seats but didn’t get the support from the MPs,” Dame Carol said.

Meantime, Dame Carol says she will be assisting intending women candidates in the 2022 National Elections to make sure they are on track before and after the elections.

Freddy Mou