26 Apr 2006

Pacific women's conference draws up plan for better representation

5:06 pm on 26 April 2006

A document has been being drawn up after last week's conference in the Cook Islands on Advancing Women's Representation in Parliament.

The conference, the first of its kind on this issue, looked at a whole range of themes which impedes some women in the region from entering parliament.

The meeting was organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat with the support of the SPC and UNIFEM and had been hosted by the Cook Islands government.

The Gender Issues Adviser at the Forum Secretariat, Samantha Hung, says one issue raised by many delegates

was a possible quota system for women.

And, she says some countries in the Pacific already have such a system.

"If you look at Tonga where you have reserved seats for nobles within the parliament - and nobles by a matter of tradition can only be men. Same with the matai system in Samoa where you have to be a matai to be a member of parliament and predominately matai are not females - so there are mechanisms already in place but not for the interest group of women."

Samantha Hung says the document will go to the Forum Presiding officers and Clerks conference early next month in the Cook Islands.