8 Sep 2022

New approaches called for in PNG to get more women into parliament

11:48 am on 8 September 2022

An advocate for more equal representation in parliament wants a Senate to be created in Papua New Guinea as a way of getting more women elected.

There have only been nine women elected to the PNG parliament in 47 years of independence, including two in the just-completed election.

A long-time advocate for more women in parliament is former cabinet minister, Dame Carol Kidu.

Dame Carol Kidu reminds Pacific MPs of the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo 1994.

Dame Carol Kidu Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

She has been working to help prepare women to stand, including the two just elected, Kessy Sawang and Rufina Peter.

Dame Carol said while the emphasis was once on having seats reserved for women, now new approaches were being called for.

"For example, if they introduced a Senate-type situation as well as the house of politicians who are now project deliverers - now let's get a Senate. People have talked a bit about this.

"A Senate which will focus on parliamentary work. That could be made 50/50 or something, but I just don't know if there is the will to do that type of thing."

Dame Carol added that the failure to get more women elected may be due to a resurgence in patriarchy.

She said more women should have got in but were held back by an electorate that was more and more centred on the male candidates.

"It's much worse than when I stood. It's intensified. It has been described by some women as a resurgence of patriarchy, but patriarchy in a new form, which is denying the power women had traditionally. Not patriarchy in its pure traditional sense where women did have a say."

Dame Carol said many of the male candidates were driven by a desire for power and wealth, not principle.

Papua New Guinea's parliament on Wednesday.

PNG's Parliament Photo: Supplied / EMTV