Prime Minister Tuilaepa is making moves to ensure women make up at least 10 per cent of the country's parliament in the future. Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepe Sailele is set to push constitutional amendments through Parliament to create special seats for women. Under the changes, at least five seats - or ten percent - of the members of parliament will be female. Prime Minister Tuilaepe has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that in future, Samoa will ensure those who take the seats are deserving candidates.
"Our proposal is such that women's representation must come from those who contested the elections," he said.
"Unlike other parliaments where they actually appoint the women."
The prime minister says he wants any amendments to come into effect by the next general election in 2016.
The reform agenda of Samoa's Person of the Decade continues to roll along. The Prime Minister, Tuilaepe Sailele is about to shepherd through Parliament constitutional amendments to create special parliamentary seats for women. Under the changes at least five seats or ten per cent of the members of parliament will be women.
Presenter: Brian Abbott
Speaker:Tuilaepe Sailele, Samoan Prime Minister
SAILELE: Now we only have two in our parliament following the general elections in March we had four in the last elections, and if this is the kind of trend perhaps in the next general elections there be none. And in accordance with the general support for more women in parliament we have subsequently decided to amend our constitution and all related laws to simplify the procedure and put in place a formula that will secure at least ten per cent of the seats in the house for women. Our proposal is such that women representation must come from those who contested the elections, unlike other parliaments where they actually appoint the women. Our formula is one where we get the women that ballot the most percentage of the votes in proportion to the total roll to get elected to ensure that there is a minimum of five seats or ten per cent of the seats in the house for women. We hope to pursue this law at our next sitting of parliament on the 17th of next month.
ABBOTT: So no extra members of parliament but ten per cent of the seats will be reserved for women, is that correct?
SAILELE: Well we can only ensure the minimum of ten per cent by moving the total number of seats in the house to maintain the ten per cent for women. So we will move totality of MPs in parliament which necessitates an amendment to our constitution, and we do not have that problem because we have the numbers.
ABBOTT: Has the push for this reform come from women's groups, or has it come from yourself?
SAILELE: It is an initiative from within our cabinet in recognition of the embarrassment of course of the nine parliaments in the world that do not have any women representation. Six of those nine parliaments happen to be in the Pacific, that's quite an embarrassment. But of course you cannot blame the Pacific because it is indicative of the general psychology of our women in the Pacific, and I'm also speaking about Samoan women, who give priority to their role in family, of raising a family. And the women that do enter parliament are either those who have chosen to remain single, therefore less responsibilities, or those who have grown up families so that they can afford to run for parliament and take on increased responsibilities beyond those expected of them in maintaining a close-knit family. Of course it means that women that enter parliament would have much more responsibilities than the men because of that extra feminine responsibility to ensure that the children at the same time are also looked after.
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