Palau is a small island state with a population of approximately 22,000 people. Palau has a US presidential-style of Government, with a directly elected President and a separate Congress. It is the only country in the Pacific which has a bicameral Congressional system. The House of Delegates has 16 members, representing the 16 States of Palau. Delegates are elected through a first-past-the-post electoral system. The Senate has 13 members, elected from a common roll across the entire country. Elections are held every 4 years for both Houses.
Although Palau is a matrilineal country, historically, women’s representation in the national Congress has been limited. Prior to 2008, Palau had no female members of Congress. In the 2013 elections, three female senators were elected into Congress.
In 2016, 13 female candidates from the total of 64 candidates stood in the natioanl elections for Congress, which was held on 27th September 2016. Out of the 13, six contested the Senate seats, and six contested the House of delegate seats. Out of the four candidates vying for the Presidency, one was also a female candidate. Following the elections, four women were elected into Congress, namely Senator J. Uduch Sengebau Senior, Senator Rukebai Inabo; Delegate Victoria Kanai, and Delegate Dilmai Saiske.
In 2016, national elections for the OEK were held on 11 November 2020 for the House of Delegates and Senate. As part of the ticket of President Surangel Whipps, Palau elected female Vice President Uduch Sengebau-Senior. Only one woman was elected to the 13-member OEK Senate, Senator Rukebai Inabo (who was re-elected). Only one woman was elected to the 16-member OEK House of Delegates, Delegate Victoria Ngiratkakl-Kanai (who was re-elected).