24 Aug 2006

Pacific Island region ranked low for women's political representation

3:48 pm on 24 August 2006

There are calls for special measures to be enacted after studies showing that the Pacific Islands region is among the worst performing in the world for women's representation in parliaments.

The Pacific Island Forum Secretariat is to publish a book next month which analyses the barriers preventing women from participating in politics.

Research by the University of the South Pacific shows that with the exception of the French Pacific territories, where recently enacted legislation has ensured nearly equal representation, there are few or no women MPs in many Pacific Island countries.

The Forum Secretariat's gender adviser, Samantha Hung, says figures from the Inter-parliamentary union indicate the extent of the problem.

"We're the worst performing region in the world alongside the Arab states. The average, if you exclude French territories, is 4.1 percent. The global average, at the moment, is 16.3, I think but we're talking about a target of 30 percent that was set a very long time ago so we're very far behind both the global average and the global target."

Samantha Hung says a number of temporary measures should be considered to fast-track women's political representation, including reserving seats in parliaments or voluntary quotas within party lists.