16 Dec 2019

More women urged to enter Bougainville politics

10:22 am on 16 December 2019

Increasing women's participation in Bougainville politics is the main goal following the autonomous Papua New Guinea region's resounding vote for independence, says a campaigner for women's rights.

Helen Hakena.

Helen Hakena. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the result announced last week, a 97.7 percent majority voted for independence in the non-binding referendum.

The long-anticipated referendum was the ultimate provision of 2001's Bougainville Peace Agreement, which followed a protracted civil war.

Helen Hakena, of Neitana Lehan Women's Development Agency, said key priorities included economic security for women, and increasing safety and security from gender-based violence.

Ms Hakena said in order to make progress in those areas, women needed to be included in political decision-making.

There were goals for the 2020 Autonomous Bougainville Government elections to achieve that, she said.

"Women should be participating fully in the political processes that are happening now.

"So, our priorities at this time is to field more women, is to put more women in the constituencies available here and not to race for the three regional seats. So that is the priority for us."

The Autonomous Bougainville Government currently has three reserved seats for women.

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