06th February, 2013
THE percentage of women MPs in Pacific nations is the lowest of any region in the world.
That statistic may soon change with the launch of an AusAID project in Sydney this weekend.
New forum brings together Pacific women MPs: Female members of Pacific parliaments are meeting in Sydney in February at a new forum designed to encourage more women in the region to enter politics, and to assist Pacific parliaments in addressing gender equality issues.
The Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Forum, which is AusAID funded, aims to build capacity of women MPs in the Pacific and develop understanding of the factors that contribute to Pacific women’s success in achieving political office and the support they require once they are elected. This forum is the important first step in planning the activities and outcomes for the full five years of the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships project.
It is also an opportunity for women parliamentarians in the Pacific and Australia to meet with each other and discuss the further development of the project’s activities and outcomes.
The Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Forum will hear from a group of established women in Australian politics, including House of Representatives Speaker Anna Burke.
The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) group says women now make up just four per cent of politicians in the 16 country Pacific Island Forum.
This compares with almost 15 per cent in the Arab states and 18 per cent in Asia.
CWP chair and West Australian state Labor politician Lisa Baker says the forum will look at how Australian MPs can work with those in the Pacific to increase female representation.
“We will encourage a more balanced gender perspective in all our parliaments, and create a voice for women that strengthens our societies and enhances our development as nations,” she said.
The AusAID project aims to work out what helps Pacific women gain office and what help they need once they get there.
About 40 MPs from the Pacific and Australia will come together to begin planning activities and outcomes for the project, including mentoring and on-the-job training for Pacific women MPs in community engagement and parliamentary skills.
The project will then train and mentor women MPs over the next five years.
Source:AAP February 04, 2013, via The Australian