Treat Women Equally: Dame Carol

Retired politician Dame Carol Kidu, has called on districts and provinces to treat women equally as stipulated by law.

Dame Kidu made this call while meeting with the first cohort of women attending the Leadership Academy for women at the Pacific Institute for Leadership and Governance (PILAG) in Waigani. Dame Kidu made the following statement which was endorsed by the women from 11 provinces.

“The National Goals in the Preamble to our National Constitution and other laws of PNG are very clear about political representation of women. National Goal 2 Directive Principle 5 clearly calls for ‘equal participation by women citizens in all political, economic, social and religious activities.’ With no women in National Parliament and very few women in local level councils, we have failed as a nation in this regard.”

Efforts have been made to improve the situation at local level with the 2014 amendments to the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government. These amendments allow for Appointed Women at local level and for those women to be resourced equally with male councilors.

“However, in most Wards, the appointed women are not given their allowances and often not even allowed to take part in debates nor put project submissions to the Ward. I commend the provinces and districts that are recognising the appointed women and call on them to put pressure on their colleagues that are not complying with the law to address the situation before the 2022 National elections.

“Perhaps at the local level, PNG should introduce Parity Laws similar to the Melanesian French territories. Instead of appointed women at local level, parliament should legislate for female councilors to be elected by male and female voters just like the male councilors.

“Political equality will not happen easily in PNG,” Dame Carol said. “We need a Government with the commitment to make sure it happens through legislative means. It is simple and has no cost implications. Repeal the present appointed women provision under the Organic Law and replace with elected positions using a parity law provision before the 2024 LLG elections.

Dame Carol believes that only then would PNG have 50/50 male/female representation by elective process at the local political level. “We would then truly become a Representative Democracy at the local level of politics.”

Carol Kidu