28 Aug 2006

Support for more women representation in parliament

2:10 pm on 28 August 2006

The Pacific Community's Women's Bureau is supporting calls for greater representation of women in the region's parliaments.

Research by the University of the South Pacific shows that with the exception of the French Pacific territories, where recent legislation has ensured nearly equal representation, men dominate the ranks of MPs.

Five countries, including Solomon Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu have no women MPs at all while most of the others can only report less than a handful, of between one to three.

The Bureau's Linda Petersen says few women are elected because there are social and financial barriers and attitudes can be difficult to change.

"Because these kinds of attitudes are so ingrained, we need to attack the issues from different levels and legislation is certainly one of them and is key. You know, we need to consider reserved seats to fasttrack women's representation in parliament."

Other measures being called for include voluntary quotas within party lists, financial support for women candidates and community education.