At the onset of the 2017 National Election hopes were raised as the country saw 165 women nominate to contest for a seat in the National Parliament.
This was a considerable increase from the 135 women who participated in the previous Election.
The growing participation of women in politics can be attributed to programs initiated by the United Nations in partnership with the PNG Government that provided pre-election support to women.
But despite these efforts no female candidate was elected as a member of parliament, an unfavorable outcome considering the former government had 3 female MPs, all of whom contested in this Election but were ousted by their male counterparts.
According to the Assistant Representative for UNDP and Head of Governance, Julie Bukikun this is a poor indication of how PNG is doing in terms of supporting women in politics.
“This is a very poor result and reflects badly on us all. This means 50 per cent of the population have no representation in the highest decision-making institution of the country.”
UNDP along with the Registrar of Political Parties, the Chief Ombudsman and the highest polling female candidate are calling on political leaders, governments and voters to commit to real change to progress female participation in politics.
According to a media release by UNDP these structural changes include consideration of the introduction of the reserved seats for women in Parliament and quotas for women in political parties. However previous attempts to introduce such changes did not fair well.
The Equality and Participation Act was passed in 2011, to introduce 22 reserved seats for women in the parliament but the Bill to amend the Constitution failed to attract the necessary number of votes in early 2012.
It is hoped this call will not fall on deaf ears but will garner enough support to see more women in parliament by 2022, through policy and legislative reforms.
Click here for the full UNDP Media Release.