Campaign for more women in Solomon Islands parliament

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20 May 2009

A campaign has been launched in the Solomon Islands to reserve 10 seats in Parliament for women.  Minister of Women, Youth and Children Affairs, Johnson Koli, launched the Special Temporary measures campaign on Tuesday night.  Ms Koli says the election next year is an opportunity to put in place affirmative action.  The campaign proposes that 10 seats be added to the existing 50 seat Parliament with elected women representing 9 provinces and Honiara.

Sarah Dyer, from the National Council of Women and is also a member of the Special Temporary Measures campaign, says the county's only ever had one female MP and fairer representation is needed.  "Since Solomon Islands gained its independence nearly 30 years ago, you know, we haven't had a good number of women in parliament... even now we don't have any woman in Parliament... and we see that it is a need for this country in Parliament working together with our men"

Ms Dyer says there is some opposition to the idea, with letters against the move being published in local papers.   "We are getting messages in the newspapers, some for, some against. I think this is based on information not going through."  She says it will be hard to get the idea through.  "Solomon Islands as a Melanesian society, it is talking about changing of mindset and barriers that suppress women from taking on leadership roles," she said. 

But Ms Dyer says there is a lot excitement about the idea.   "Women are very excited about it... but it is not only women organisations that are behind this, it is the government, NGOs, regional organisations that are behind this," she said.  

[Australia Network News]

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