Inaugural PNG Practice Parliament for Women commences


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23 April 2012
Photo by Isikeli Valemei
Photo by Isikeli Valemei

The first ever Practice Parliament for PNG women will be run in Port Moresby, this Thursday at the Holiday Inn. Preparation for the Practice Parliament kicked off today at Lemana Hotel, with more than 40 women from 18 different provinces in PNG coming together for the 3-day training they need to undergo before participating in the Practice Parliament.

Ms Anna Solomon, Acting Secretary at the Office for the Development of Women represented the Government of PNG at the Opening Ceremony. She was very encouraging, telling the women: “I have a strong feeling that we will have some women elected to the national parliament at these elections. I am very keen for us to already start planning our efforts to support such women, once they get into Parliament. In recent times, we have seen how brave a woman MP can be inside our parliament. I believe women can bring the common sense they show in their households and their communities to our national parliament to really get work done.”

Ms Solomon stated, “Over the next couple of days you will be debating issues, especially what is happening currently in our country. We hope that what you learn here will give you some good ideas. The Practice Parliament gives you an opportunity to move from talking about these issues under the trees and at conferences, to discussing these issues at a national level.”

The Practice Parliament is being organized by the Office of the Department of Women (ODW) and the United Nations (UN) as part of the national ODW strategy to support women candidates in their efforts to get elected to the National Parliament in the next elections. The Practice Parliament is the first time that PNG women have ever been brought together and given an opportunity to showcase to the voters and the community what a group of Papua New Guinean women can do if elected to Parliament.

Mr David McLachlan-Carr, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in PNG, opened the Practice Parliament for Women. In his opening statement he noted: “With elections almost upon us, it is important to reflect on the fact that research has shown that when we invest in women as leaders, that investment flows on to benefit the entire family unit as well as the broader community. With that in mind, we have specifically included sessions in this week’s training which will give participants a chance to discuss current and emerging issues of governance in PNG.”

Mr McLachlan-Karr noted: “The policy issues participants will be briefed on during the course of this training have been identified as some of the most critical areas where communities in PNG look to the wisdom and foresight of their leaders in Parliament for guidance on how PNG should respond, so that the country and its people can fully reach their potential. This is not a “business as usual” election. People are looking for leadership – and today I look to you and I feel sincerely hopeful that the people will have a real chance to hear some new and innovative ideas from this group of leaders.”

 

The idea of having Practice Parliament for Women was launched by UNDP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in 2011. The Practice Parliament idea was first proposed at a meeting of Small Islands States on Women in Decision-Making which was held in Nadi in November 2010.

Following that meeting, UNDP and PIFS piloted the idea last year by organizing Practice Parliaments for Women in Kiribati in August 2011, in Marshall Islands in August 2011 and in Palau in September 2011. Notably, Ms Maere Tekanene, who participated in Kiribati was selected to her Parliament in November 2011 and Dr Hilda Heinie, who participated in the Marshall Islands Practice Parliament was the only women elected to the legislature in Marshalls.

The PNG Practice Parliament for Women will be supported by national and international resource people. In an exciting new initiative sponsored by UNDP, the Practice Parliament will strengthen Melanesian Spearhead Group ties. Clerk of the Solomon Islands Parliament, Mrs Taeasi Sanga, and Mr Albert Kabui, the Legal and Procedural Officer at the Solomon Islands Parliament, are in the country to support the Practice Parliament.

The public are welcome to attend the Practice Parliament, which will commence at 10am on Thursday 26 April at the Holiday Inn hotel. Excerpts of the Practice Parliament will also be broadcast on the radio.
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Follow the Practice Parliament on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PacWIP and on twitter at @PacWIP.

If you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact Lisa Smyth, UN Communications Officer, lisa.smyth@one.un.org, +675 321 2877.

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