Still strong opposition to more women in Bougainville politics

10:59 am on 12 June 2020

A push is underway in Bougainville to increase the parliamentary representation by women.

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Photo: The Bougainvillean

Bougainville, when the autonomous government was set up in 2005, was one of the first places in the Pacific to guarantee seats for women.

In the 39 member parliament there are three reserved women's seats, but when Marilyn Havini was involved in the initial advocacy for women's representation 20 years ago she said they sought 12 seats.

Ms Havini said the Women's Peace and Security group was campaigning to encourage people to back women candidates contesting the open seats in the August election.

"Calling for more allowance or acceptance of women standing, for open seats - we would like to see equal representation of course." She said.

"We are having a lot of flashback, we are getting a lot of angry men saying in pidjin "Em i no sea bilong meri," in other words that's not a woman's chair. You have got your three seats. Every other seat is for men. So there is still a lot of resistance."

Marilyn Havini, who is Australian, was this week recognised in the country's Queen's Birthday Honours for the assistance she had provided to communities in Papua New Guinea and Bougainville over more than 40 years.

Her husband was the late Moses Havini who, after being exiled from PNG during the civil war, became the leading international spokesman for the Bougainville independence cause from his base in Brisbane.