Forum addresses zero women in National Parliament

Sep 27, 2017

Over 100 participants including women, and prominent leaders across PNG came together to address the issues of zero women in the National Parliament. ©Graham Robinson /Piksa PNG

Madang, 27 September 2017Prominent leaders from government, civil society and communities are meeting in Madang this week, September 26-28, to find ways forward to ensure there is better political representation for women in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

In the 2017 National General Elections, no women were elected into office which makes PNG one of only five countries in the world – Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Qatar and Yemen - that has no women members in parliament. 

More than a hundred people are attending this forum with representatives from the Office of the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (IPPCC), PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC), National Research Institute (NRI), the Ombudsman Commission (OC), women candidates and concerned citizens.

During the opening of the forum, Member for Madang Open, Hon Bryan Kramer encouraged women to plan effective campaigns and be ready for the upcoming 2018 LLG Elections. He also reflected on quality leadership: “The measure of a good leader is not the ability to lead but the humility to serve. Getting elected is hard in PNG and even harder for women. It takes commitment and sacrifice. You have to work even harder to get ahead but it can be done,” Mr Kramer said.

Registrar of Political Parties and Candidates, Dr Alphonse Gelu says the IPPCC is committed to seeing more women elected into parliament: “We need to have more women elected for us to proudly say that we have progressed in terms of giving equal opportunity to women in the country. The Registry supports the principles of equality and inclusiveness and we want that to be entrenched in our country by having more women as members of political parties and political parties endorsing more women in elections.”

Dr Gelu said this can be achieved through progressing several important law reforms including the proposal raised by the Prime Minister, Hon Peter O’Neill last month, to reserve 22 seats for women in the National Parliament. This proposal builds on the 2012 national campaign to pass the ‘Equality and Participation Bill’, which sought to amend the ‘Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government’ to add more regional seats to the Parliament which would be contested by women only.

Dr Gelu also calls for support for amendments currently being proposed by the IPPCC, that includes a quota for political parties to nominate a minimum of 20% women as candidates in the elections.

Participants will also discuss how to support women candidates during the upcoming 2018 LLG elections which is a critical opportunity for women to again try to be engaged in their own political governance.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting work around equal representation for women in parliament. Ms Julie Bukikun, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative said at the forum: “We are very pleased to be able to support government bodies and women leaders to progress this important issue. The August 2017 National Women Candidate Forum recommended that more effort be made to find out about the special needs of women across different provinces. We are very pleased to support participants to meet in Madang to discuss their special challenges and to develop action-oriented responses. We are also happy to bring the discussion to the sub-national level where the majority of the people are and want to engage in the discussion as well as to receive information.”

The meeting will conclude with an outcomes statement setting out the key priorities and recommendations that will be shared widely for implementation by Government and by the women themselves.

More information on the outcomes statement can be found on PNG Women in Leadership Facebook page.

Contact information

David Ephraim, +675 7808 0123, david.ephraim@undp.org

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