Parliamentarians’ group on PNG
NZ cross-party parliamentarians’ group supportive of reserved seats for women in Papua New Guinea ’s parliament
Wellington , 12. November 2010 : The New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) welcomes the news from Papua New Guinea that the proposed Equality and Participation Bill, to enact 22 reserved seats for women by an elective process, will be tabled on November 16 during the coming parliament session.
“Women in Papua New Guinea face many barriers to participating at the highest political level, yet their participation and leadership is crucial to the prosperity and development of their country. Affirmative action is often necessary to overcome barriers in the short term to ensure women are represented and their voices are heard. It is great to see the government in Papua New Guinea taking action on this” says Dr. Jackie Blue, NZPPD Chair.
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, has publicly expressed his support for more women in parliament and for women’s empowerment in general, stating,
“Women play important roles in all societies and many of them are decision makers and leaders in both private and public sectors. The government will ensure they have a fair representation in parliament.”
The Pacific region has the lowest number of seats held by women in parliament of any region in the world. Currently, there is only one female member of parliament in Papua New Guinea - the Minister for Community Development Dame Carol Kidu.
Inequalities between men and women in Papua New Guinea is evident, with high rates of gender-based violence, low numbers of girls enrolled in secondary school and poor health services for women.
“When women aren’t represented at the highest decision making level their needs tend to be overlooked. This is apparent in Papua New Guinea where we see the highest maternal death rate in the Pacific region, a very high teenage pregnancy rate, poor antenatal care coverage and a very low percentage of births attended by skilled health personnel” says Dr. Blue.
The NZPPD is cross - party, with currently 44 members representing just fewer than 40 percent of all New Zealand MPs. The group has provided a forum for New Zealand parliamentarians to engage and act on international population and development issues for twelve years. The NZPPD has a particular focus on the Pacific region, where the population and development challenges remain great. Family Planning International houses the NZPPD Secretariat.