Nauru has a population of approximately 10,000 people. Elections are required to be held at least every three years, although political instability has often resulted in more frequent elections. Nauru has an unusual electoral system called the Modified Borda Count, and uses multi-member constituencies. The national Parliament has 19 Members of Parliament, since an enactment in July 2012 came into force during the 8 June 2013 national elections. Nauru has not historically had strong, formal structures for political parties, with candidates typically standing as independents. In 2003, the Nauru First party was successful in elections and continues to have members sitting in Parliament.
Prior to 2013, Honorouble Ruby Dediya had been the lone female MP who was elected four times, serving from 1986 to 1989 and then 1992 to 1997.
There is currently two women in the Nauru Parliament, Honorable Charmaine Scotty, and Hon. Isabelle Dageago, following the August 2019 elections. Hon. Charmaine Scotty has successfully contested 3 general elections since 2013, when she was the sole woman MP. In the previous Parliament session, in addition to Hon. Scotty, MP Gabrissa Hartman had also been elected into Parliament following a by-election.
A study completed in 2006, “Developing a More Facilitating Environment for Womens Political Participation in Nauru“, found that between 1968 and 2004, 860 male candidates ran for national elections in Nauru, with only 31 female candidates running.
Interestingly, the study found that of the women who did stand for Parliament, 25 were single and only 6 were married. In the 2007 and 2008 elections the number of women candidates dramatically increased and two women came close to election. In the 2013 elections, five women ran for Parliament and one was successful. In 2016, a total of 67 candidates, including 4 women, stood for the 19-seat Parliament in the elections with 2 women being successfully elected. It is notable that women were relatively successful in being elected to the Constitutional Convention in 2007, suggesting that women in Nauru are ready to take on the role of parliamentarians. In light of the large number of independents in the Parliament, the only temporary special measure which could be utilised to increase the number of women in the Parliament is the creation of seats reserved for women. This was suggested during the 2006-7 constitutional reform process, but was not supported during public consultations.
On 14th August 2019, the Nauru Electoral Commission announced a total of 60 candidates that included 5 women (8%), competing for 19 seats in 8 Constituencies. Full names and details of the candidates can be viewed on here.
The five women candidates for the 2019 Nauru general elections were Charmaine Scotty (Yaren District), Isabella Dageago (Yaren), Gabrissa Hartman (Ubenide), Ronay Dick (Menen) and Kaye Aliklik (Ubenide), with Hon Scotty, and Hon. Dageago now elected into Parliament. Hon Dageago is currently the Minister for Health, and also holds the portfolio for Home Affairs.
Hon. Isabelle Dageago
Electorate: Yaren District
Political Status: Minister for Health; and Home Affairs