CaptionL: UNDP Assistant Resident Representative, Julie Bukikun (standing) with Dr Susan Kongre, who was a panelist at the discussion during the International Women’s Day celebrations on Wednesday. Dr Kongre (a medical doctor) is contesting the Gumune Open seat in Simbu Province.
Political groups pay lip service to women’s issues: UNDP
By PATRICK SAKAL
POLITICAL parties in PNG dominated by men deem women are unsuitable and incapable of being political leaders.
Thus, many parties only pay lip service to women’s issues but are reluctant to back women candidates in national elections, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has revealed.
Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Julie Bukikun highlighted this as one of the major obstacles and hindrances that gives PNG the lowest representation rate for women in politics in the Pacific region.
She said there are 111 Members in Parliament and three are women which represents only 2.7% of MPs.
Ms Bukikun said the 2.7% of all members is less than the 3.7% average across the Pacific excluding Australia and New Zealand.
According to an UNDP statistics, the number of female candidates has continued to increase since 1997 but not many are elected to parliament.
Since the national elections in 1997, there were 55 women candidates and only two were elected as MPs, 74 women contested in 2002 and one got elected, in 2007 elections 96 women contested with only one PM elected and in 2012 elections 135 women candidates contested and only three were elected.
She said PNG lags well behind the global average of around 20-22%.
She described this representation as one of the lowest rate of women’s participation in formal politics around the world and urged political parties and the community to support women candidates in 2017 national elections.
Ms Bukikun revealed this during the International Women’s Day celebration on Wednesday in Port Moresby.
“And off course it is one of the lowest numbers of women MPs in the region,” she said.
“We have to celebrate this day but we also want to discuss some issues that are very important for Papua New Guinea about women’s participation, particularly in politics.
“The UN reminds government of the commitment that has been made on all forms of discrimination against women and tries to increase women’s participation in the development of the country through politics up to 30%.”
She cited some of the election assessments for 2007, 2012 and said some political parties did not see women as potential leaders and effective politicians.
Ms Bukikun said some subtly used soceital prejudice community and cultural values as justification.
She said the community does not yet seem ready to accept women as credible leaders and lawmakers in the National Parliament.
Meanwhile, few women candidates employed effective strategies to seek endorsement from political parties.
She said the reports of bribery, corruption, lack of training of polling officials and violent intimidation of voters and candidates among others were the major hindrances of more women not being elected into Parliament.
“We are encouraging equal participation for all women in the development of the country from local to national level of government in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.”