The Pacific region is noted to have the lowest percentage of women in politics and is the only region that has shown no improvement over two decades of global activism. This was highlighted by Papua New Guineas Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu in her address at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development in Bangkok recently.
The National newspaper reports that eight countries in the world, which have no women members of Parliament, five were Pacific Island nations including the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. The meeting brought together academics, NGO workers and female politicians from the region to specifically discuss the issue of women in decision making. Vanuatu is reported to only have two women representatives in Parliament while Tonga, Marshall Islands and PNG have only one each.
Dame Carol said contemporary culture in the Pacific still tends to be conservative and patriarchal, reflecting a colonial and missionary heritage as well as a reluctance to change a status quo which favours men politically, socially, economically and administratively. She urged womens organisations and female politicians to use this landmark statement as leverage for affirmative action in their own countries. Ms Carol had achieved a breakthrough in Parliament recently when Cabinet endorsed her submission to bring four women to Parliament by 2009 by using an amended constitutional provision for nominated seats.
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