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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Female MPs Voice Opposition To Reserved Seats Bill
Parliamentarians say women should win votes on their own

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 20, 2012) – Papua New Guinea’s three female MPs are threatening to withdraw their allegiance to the government if the bill on 22 reserved seats for women in parliament is brought up again by parliamentarians.

Sohe MP and Vice-Minister for Treasury Delilah Gore delivered the bombshell in Goroka last week.

Gore said she, Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso and Lae MP and Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Loujaya Toni were opposed to the bill and had agreed in principle to withdraw from the government in the event the bill was brought up by any MP in government.

Soso and Gore are members of the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party headed by Kandep MP and Treasury Minister Don Polye and Toni is the sole member and parliamentary leader of the People’s Indigenous Party.

Gore called on all the women in PNG to win votes like they did and to show women were strong.

She said it was shameful for women to pressure MPs in parliament to push for the bill and that they should win votes on their own accord to show that women were capable.

Gore pointed out that she and her two female colleagues had proven that politics in PNG was no longer a man’s domain. She said if the three of them could do it, any woman could too.

She named former female MPs such as Dame Josephine Abaijah, Nahau Rooney, Dame Carol Kidu and former Morobe premier Enny Moiatz as examples of what women were capable of achieving.

[PIR editor’s note: In response, Dame Kidu has called for other forms of affirmative action to be implemented if the reserved seats bill is not passed. Dame Kidu added that three female MPs "are not enough," and she questioned whether or not the current women MPs would have been chosen had there not been so much debate over reserved spots for women in parliament.]

She said the trend of politics during election was changing and women were beginning to be respected.

Jiwaka-based lawyer and businessman Harry Kapal asked Gore if the election of the three women might have rendered the bill as being a dead issue.

Gore strongly argued that there were no free handouts such as the 22 reserved seats and that political democracy would be undermined if parliament reserved seats.

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