Gazettal for Womens Representation Bill

Okay I’m not very clear on what’s happening here, so I’m just going to write up my understanding so far from what I have heard from groups involved with pushing the Womens Representation Bill. I hear that gazettal of the Constitutional Amendment has gone through as of Thursday so now Lady kidu will need to wait for gazettal of the accompanying Organic Law amendments so that she can table the entire package amendments at the next sitting of Parliament.

So besides the Maladina amendments another big constitutional amendment is also going to take place at this next sitting.

I was initially against the bill as you can read here, but as time has gone on my thoughts have been, well we really need to start somewhere with this to break the ‘gender bias’ cycle and if the inclusion can in anyway mature the style of leadership that we have had to deal with for the last 35 years then I’m all for it. So congratulations to all involved for getting this far. There is more work to be done yet, but some promising steps forward though.

Just a thought, isn’t it amazing that something like this is taking only one lone female member to run around to get this actually gazetted?

Anyway here’s a little excerpt from Euralia Paine’s blog to give a brief outline of how it will work:

“The report stated the model used for Reserved Seats for women was the creation of two-member provincial electorates of which one seat is reserved for a female member who occupies the woman’s seat and the other is reserved for the member who occupies the Governor’s seat.

The features of the model include:
  • The female member represents the province but is not the governor
  • Her constituency is the women & men of the province
  • She sits in the provincial assembly and Parliament
  • She is eligible to be appointed as a minister and a chairperson of a parliamentary committee; and
  • She may sit in provincial committees and is eligible to vote for and to be elected deputy governor
Leader for the legal team on Reserved Seats Professor Eric Kiua said women candidates could either stand for the governor’s seat, the reserved seat or the open member’s seat in the national elections.

He clarified that the reserved seats for women would in no way replace the governor’s seat unless the governor is given a ministerial portfolio, then she is eligible to be elected as governor. “


10 thoughts on “Gazettal for Womens Representation Bill

  1. Manu,

    I agree that we should start somewhere to break the ‘gender bias’ cycle.

    A few confusing bits though, if I may:

    What happens if the governor steps down because a losing candidate’s appeal has been upheld by the court of appeals, the governor (God forbids) passes away, and, the governor commits a crime and had to be forced to step down? I think when one ceiling is broken another one materialises. It’s rather unfortunate that the intension is there but the way they plan to implement the decision is still lacking in democratic practice. To set a criteria that is still very limiting for increased representation of women in Parliament.

    Some thoughts:

    I think it gets more and more discriminatory and good progress is reduced to continuous hair-splitting that in the final analysis will end up expanding existing limitations for women. All these elaborate stuff on ‘reserved seats’ is just another opportunity to continue making excuses why women should not compete equally.

    All it takes is for women’s representation in parliament is for a majority if not unanimous agreement to create X number of seats in parliament for women before the next parliament. Then a constitutional amendment to accommodate this. In the next national elections women standing for seats at any level – regional members, open members, independent etc will simply aim to get this number of women into parliament. The approach/method/strategy is clear, democratic, less discriminatory and there is always the big picture to overcoming gender bias in womens’ representation in parliament.

    This to my mind would be a better strategy to giving women an equal opportunity to compete equally in the national elections. What this amendment should do is to empower women to run for the X number of parliamentary seats. Simple. Fuurthermore, this approach would also avoid additional and unnecessary bureaucracy at all political governance levels. Phew!

    This is better discussed over a glass of red, don’t you think?

    Stap gut brata…

    1. Hi Mari, good to hear from you. Certainly it is complicated and it is definately not wholly democratic.

      Any law that is created to actively increase female participation other than through the polling booth will always face the problem of limited powers. Simply because it is not true democracy.

      Additionly creating a new role anywhere in government will automatically create a new layer of beuracracy.

      It is not a perfect world and our culture grossly amplifies this when it comes to gender issues.

      So the issue of female representation in government is not something (like many other issues) that can be solved in one hit of legislative amendments.

      The practicalities of this legislation are yet to be seen and I don’t think anyone can predict how it will play out.

      But I think let’s try something, review and change if necessary, try it again and continue until we get it right.

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think these laws exclude a female for running in a normal seat.

      Here are some stats of female candidates over the years from an article by Orovu Sepoe (Sepoe, O, 2002. ‘To make a difference: Realities of womens participation in PNG politics’, Development Bulletin, no. 59, pp.39-42):

      • 1977 – 10 candidates
      • 1982 – 17 candidates
      • 1987 – 18 candidates
      • 1992 – 16 candidates
      • 1997 – 55 candidates
      • 2002 – 60 candidates

      So the numbers of women attempting normal seats are increasing. Maybe come 2012 the chance of getting more than one female into Parliament through the polls can increase if we can double or triple the numbers from 2002.

      Then add on to that the possible new legislations that give specific seats and there you have an opportunity to maximise the whole system for our ultimate goal of equal participation not only at home but in decision making at the Parliament as well.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from Digicel Pacific

  2. Emmanuel,

    Thanks for bringing this up. I think the current model is far better than the previous one because we the people can now directly elect our representative, in this case a woman, to parliament. The previous failed bid to appoint people to parliament was an unnecessary move which I vehemently opposed because it was completely undemocratic in character. It took the power of popular choice of political leadership away from the people and vested it in a very narrow interest group. This was the crux of what I didn’t like then.


    I think the current proposal treats the women reps as no different to any other elected member of parliament. Although the manner in which they will be voted in will be very similar to the way the governors are elected, that is where the similarities with the governorship stops. Once elected, the women reps will not be governors nor should they be seen as such.

    The appropriate way of looking at the women reps will be from the way we look at the open members. They will have equal rights and privileges as any other elected member of parliament who is not a governor. And they will be eligible to be voted as deputy governors, or as governors in circumstances that warrant the election of a governor by their respective provincial assemblies. All open members are in the equal running for deputy/governor seats as the women’s rep. She will be on equal footing with her male counterparts once elected and will have to prove her worth just like the guys are required to. Now this is empowering women. I like it.

    I am all for this proposal as the power to choose our legislators is still vested in us the people. And once elected, the women reps will have equal standing as any other elected member of parliament.

    1. Thanks David, I think we were on the same side with that first arguement.

      From what I have heard there may be some limitations, but you are correct in that they will be like Governor seats.
      Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from Digicel Pacific

  3. Breaking through the ‘glass ceilng’ in PNG politics

    It is with a tad of trepidation that I offer some reflections on this subject, given the potential, emotional response the issue sometimes elicits.

    There are a number of issues that inevitably flow from any undemocratic initiative of this nature. While the comments below refer to publically appointed positions, the lessons learnt apply across the board.

    In the 1970’s in Australia, there seemed like a real career opportunity in government for many due to circumstances before their birth. The Great Depression and then World War 2 had created a 15 year period where there were very few births. Then came the post WW2 ‘Baby Boom’ and those male applicants who were born in this period were on the crest of a wave. Suddenly however, it was decided that women too deserved careers and an intense, political campaign was initiated to ensure that they received equal opportunities of career advancement. Some may even remember the ‘Burn the Bra’ and other Women’s Liberation campaigns.

    Well that should have been that but the difficulty was that some women didn’t want to wait until they naturally achieved promotion on merit. They wanted equal footing with men NOW and on every level. Various reasons for this were bandied around. Firstly it was claimed, men had had their chance at managing the world and look what a mess they made of it. Wars and mistakes and so on. Women could and would do better and since there was no yardstick available to evaluate this contention, there was no effective argument against this notion. Male applicants were then actively discriminated against in order that female applicants could be advanced to what was claimed was a natural expectation of 50% of every level of government. Afterall, women make up 50% of the population. What was NOT considered was that not all women wanted to do the jobs on offer and many wanted to continue in their traditional roles at that time. That meant that there only a certain percentage of women who wanted the vacant positions on offer and this meant that even with gender balance, there was a restricted pool of competent female applicants available.

    Bringing this politically inspired ‘social engineering’ into law unfortunately gave rise to the inevitable, collateral damage that comes from a good idea that hasn’t been thought out fully. Instead of accelerating the training of female staff who trying to break through the glass ceiling, female applicants were simply given priority. What this then did is to enable those female applicants who applied to gain positions where they may not have been the best applicant to be promoted on their gender as the deciding factor. This created a situation where those females who had been promoted then found male employees who were more competent and experienced but who had been overlooked. In a perfect world where promotions were based on proven merit alone, this situation would not have occurred however when a newly promoted female found difficulty in managing her male employees and their objective male way of doing things, she simply promoted female applicants to positions below her using the positive gender bias methodology available.

    So after 30 years of experience, has this ‘Unequal Opportunity’ now made any difference to the way the world runs?

    Not one, conceivable iota.

    That is not to say that women should not get an equal opportunity to advance themselves or to aspire to public positions. They certainly should get equality in this and all other aspects of life.

    In PNG, the gender bias could be said to be traditionally more entrenched than in some other countries and might therefore require firmer action to remove it. But how does a modern PNG woman overcome the traditional gender bias in most PNG societies? This is where ‘guided democracy’ must be introduced but another equally important issue must be to effectively train and foster female aspirants to do the job they are aspiring to. Another issue is: will they be given the proper power and accorded the respect to do the job they has been appointed to do? Has this aspect been fully thought out in the planned initiative being considered?

    The essence of any debate about the selection and appointment to any position should be the removal of any perceived bias in selection and to have the best person be selected for the position in a transparent and fair selection process. That is a very important aspect that people should consider as to how this initiative will work in practice.

    If the process whereby male candidates are currently chosen has produced the current PNG Parliament, has this method been proven to be able to effectively choose the best, available candidates?

    That’s a another question?

  4. We’ve been told the move is a “special temporary measure” so one would logically expect that a sunset clause has been drafted in to ensure the proposal terminates at some stage and lives up to its purpose.

    But I still like the idea that we get to ELECT our legislators to parliament under seats reserved only for women. Participation by women in our national life is welcome and needed, but we must not be seen to be dishing out the privilege on a golden platter. They must earn the right of participation just like everyone else. And I see the proposal to elect women to parliament as doing just that.

    It also hands the power right back to the voting populace to decide which women are most deserving of being our lawmakers just like any other MP. APPOINTMENT of people to parliament as previously proposed is a big no no for mine. Good or bad we, the people, deserve our leadership at any given time and that choice must always remain in our hands.

  5. Hi Manu,

    Always great to be part of the discussion streams, stimulated and inspired by your insightful posts.

    I too think we are all on the same side of the fence. The stats you’ve provided are telling of the progress for female representation in parliament. Great start so far – just need to go the extra mile to top the 100 mark. What was the number in the 2007 election?

    I am following the UK elections at it develops. What drew my attention was that here they really do give publicity (the media and political parties) to their female rookies and veterans alike. The women do get backing from their political party heads and there seems to be significant mentoring of newbies or wannabes. A far cry from ours back there but let’s hope the times are a changing for our women so that they too can come into the limelight to air their views and aspirations as budding pollies.

    Media plays a very big and important role here and women can do alot better in PNG if they were to get the media on their side – no matter what level they are running for. Publicity is the PNG woman’s best friend if done tactically and they raise the bar for intellectual debate. For example, publicly debating and taking a progressive stand on current and national issues such as HIV/AIDS & its impact on development, the important role of the public service, issues around foreign policy eg. immigration issues, and economic and social strategies for poverty alleviation, the role and impact of foreign aid etc etc.

    I think the issue at the heart of all this is perhaps the way we want to democratically govern our country. The way we work and do things that are inclusive of all sections of the community, spheres of activity, sexes, governance levels, etc. Mais oui, suck the lemon and see what happens.

    For what its worth, this conscious move to empower women to be actively involved in governance at the highest level is a gigantic step in the right direction. I think it is the how and the what that will be the niggly bit in the equation. Like they say, the devil is in the detail.

    When the strategy and approach for women’s empowerment is articulated well, the results could be positively staggering. Again, in PNG like anywhere else with every move let’s make sure we see the trees first and learn before we move on towards the next part of the forest. Much philosophising is not going to add value but by the same token an intellectual debate must still be had to strengthen efforts towards brushing away the cobwebs that are still holding us back from smashing the glass ceiling into smithereens – that would be an almighty good start.

    Applause and gratitude to the tireless champions for women’s empowerment in PNG. That includes the men who have stood by their women who at one time or another pursued their goals and followed their convictions to go out there and be leaders of Man.

    Well, there may yet be an occasion for a gi-normous glass of red…

    Have a great day. It’s nice and warm here today. Who knows what we will get weatherwise tomorrow – one could only hope it’s getting warmer and dry as we sail into April – April showers notwithstanding.


  6. Top of the morning to you all!!

    With all the hype surrounding the protest march & the issues relating to the “Maladina Amendments”, I hope the Bill on Reserved Seats will be debated in Parliament with equal passion in the third week of this month.

    If the MPs support it and vote for it, it will then be presented in the July sitting for the final reading.

    Many of us are looking forward to the first debate on the Bill.

    Apparently, the Reserved Seats decision term rests with Parliament. I hear there is no mention in the proposed laws for the term of office.

    It could range up to two to three terms. By which time, women who do make it to Parliament in 2012 would have excelled themselves and can try the constituency seats. Albeit we would need the Reserved Seats for some time for the impact to be felt.

    At the end of the day it depends on who gets in 2010 to make the difference.


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