25 Nov 2011

Political expediency drives through PNG bill on reserved seats for women

4:35 am on 25 November 2011

Papua New Guinea's only woman MP says it is more political expediency than changing attitudes that has seen a bill guaranteeing reserved seats for women pass.

Parliament this week passed the Equality and Participation Bill which sets up 22 reserved seats for women - but other legislation to allow it to happen may not be passed before parliament rises for next year's election.

Dame Carol Kidu says she was surprised by how strong the debate in parliament was.

"There's been a lot of behind the scenes lobbying with women, which I've been well away from. But certainly there is a degree of political expediency. I know people who are presently in the middle benches, where I am, who were against it, basically are still against it, but are saying 'this was our legislation, we are voting for it'."

Dame Carol Kidu says prominent members of the government, who voted against the bill before, have become champions of it.