Bill asks FSM to consider new non-voting seats for women in Congress

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28th March, 2018

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Congress has introduced a bill (CB 20-116) that guarantees representation of women in the FSM Congress. If passed it would mean another referendum vote to change the Constitution to redefine FSM Congress. 
The bill is currently being shopped around by the Congress Standing Committee on Justice and Governmental Operations in public hearings throughout the FSM. Initial reactions from many people who have attended public hearings have been positive.
The bill proposes to establish a seat in Congress for each State for one female member elected at large from each State. The proposed term for those seats would be two years.
“Female members elected on the basis of state equality shall be non-voting members. These members may be appointed as committee members, and may participate in discussion and debate, according to the proposed Bill.
For some people, the idea that seats need to be established to be filled exclusively by women presupposes that all of the other seats will be filled by my males and is therefore an exclusionary measure of sorts. There has never been a woman elected to the FSM Congress but women are not been prohibited from running and winning a seat in the nation’s seat of legislative power.
In August of 2012, Senator Isaac Figir who was then the Speaker of Congress proposed CB 17-147 which also proposed the addition of four new seats in Congress for women. That proposed bill is not available on the Congress website but The Kaselehlie Press published an interview with Speaker Figir about his bill which was first introduced in November of 2008. If either of his two bills had passed in Congress, it would have meant a Constitutional referendum. Neither of his bills would have relegated the role of women who fill those seats to a non-voting status in Congress.
The current ‘Temporary Special Measure’ Bill was introduced by Speaker Wesley Simina on December 4, 2017.
“…Stating that this measure is on the basis of ‘equality’? It makes my stomach turn,” one woman wrote in an email to The Kaselehlie Press. She said that she had emailed the Chairman of the J&GO Committee asking on behalf of the Pohnpei Women Council to be heard but received no reply. She said that she had also called and left what she categorised as a “tonne” of messages but received no reply from that avenue either.
“This is the most degrading, demeaning, discriminatory bill ever, she wrote.


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