March 26, 2019

PM O’Neill backs move for women’s seats in parliament

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is backing a proposal that will guarantee women four seats in Parliament, starting in the 2020 general election or the one after.

He told a women’s forum in Port Moresby it is proposed that each region be represented by a woman.

The condition is that the women have to contest a seat in their region and the “best-performing” four candidates will be selected, even if they fail to win the seat they contested.

It will also mean that the total number of MPs will increase by four to 115, but Parliament will have the final say after a bill is introduced in the House.

O’Neill said the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission was now visiting districts around the country getting everyone’s view on the matter.

“Women in our society have leadership roles in the ownership of properties. In the matrilineal society women have the right of the ownership of land,” he said.

“When we go to elections (in 2022), four of the best candidates (will be picked).

“You have to be a candidate and the women can run for any seat.”

He said the decision on who was selected would be made by the Electoral Commissioner.

“It is about performance and we are still discussing that and it’s a lively discussion,” O’Neill said.

“The challenge is on us that at least in every parliament, there would be a minimum representation for women. We will always have four seats. It’s an exciting proposition. It’s the first time that we want to balance the debate that women want to be elected and not appointed.

“Let’s get some women leaders into Parliament. There is nothing wrong with us advancing this issue … so we can accommodate our women representation,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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