Women MPs

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The Pacific region, not counting Australia, New Zealand, and the French Territories, has the lowest level of women’s political participation in the world. Out of 559 members of parliament in the 15 countries* covered by UNDP, there are only 41 female members (7.3% of all MPs; the global average being 23.8%).  One country has a female Head of State (President Hilda Heine of RSM), and one country has a female Deputy Prime Minister (Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa in Samoa).  Of the 41 women MPs in the region, 14 (35%) from 6 countries are in senior political leadership positions:  President, Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Speaker, Minister or Associate Minister. Cook Islands and Fiji have appointed women Speakers.

The extremely low level of women’s representation in Pacific legislatures is a critical challenge for democracy, gender equality and the sustainable development of the region.  At local governance level, women’s representation is similarly low.

Of the four countries in the world with no women MPs, three are in the Pacific (Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea).  In the last decade, significant resources have been dedicated to programmes aimed at increasing women’s political leadership but progress has been slow, and in some cases, non-existent (FSM) or it has declined (PNG, Vanuatu). Innovative and transformative approaches, such as establishing of the male advocates for women in politics network, are needed, as well as sustained support for work across the electoral cycle to support women’s participation and build resilience.

Womens in Senior Political leadership

Of the 12 countries in the region that have women in parliament, six have women in senior political leadership positions.  There are 14 elected women members (34% of 41 in total) in senior positions, and two women appointed as Speakers.

Country President Deputy Prime Minister Opposition Leader Speaker Deputy Speaker Minister Associate Minister Chair of Committee
Cook Is       1 appointed 1      
Fiji     1 1 appointed   2 2  
RMI 1         1    
Nauru           1    

1 (also a Minister)

      1   1
Tuvalu           1    
Total 1 1 1 2 1 6 2 1

* The 15 Pacific Island Countries covered by UNDP include: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu