The PNG election has just been completed and they have now elected a new Government.
PNG has through this elections been pushed back into being one of only five countries (along with Yemen, Qatar, Micronesia, Vanuatu) in the World, that do not have any female representatives in their national legislatures. The global average for female representation in national legislatures is currently at 23 percent.
For PNG it is extremely difficult for women to get elected to public office. Since independence in 1975, only seven women have been elected to Parliament.
According to recent reports compiled by YTS News from various websites, evidence show women have never comprised more than 10% of the membership of Pacific national parliaments in Forum Islands Countries since Independence, and the percentage of women in Pacific parliaments currently hovers at 7% (as of August 2017).
However, the evidence of the vast developmental benefits for communities, and countries as a whole, that an empowered female populace can bring should lead to a greater encouragement of female participation in public representation.
Universal considerations such as high rates of violence against women, limited employment opportunities, and poor access to health care, should be deemed unacceptable in some Pacific Island society. Unfortunately, breaking down these norms will take time, but with no female representation in some Melanesian country’s parliament means the task becomes more difficult.
Looking at Qatar, YTS News found Qatari women have long outnumbered men in the country’s higher education system. Female enrollment in Qatari universities has been nearly double that of men. The effects of that ratio are now becoming clear, including in traditionally male-dominated professions like engineering, media and information technology and the transformation in its workforce is visible as more women take up jobs than men. For a country with no women MP’s, Qatar does compensate well for this.
However for a place like Yemen, this is one place where it is a worst thing to be a woman. Yemeni women are convinced to stay at home instead of getting an education or a job, and, therefore, they have little to no opportunity to gain their own freedom or economic status. Many women do not even have identification cards or voter status.
The Micronesian island of Guam has the highest divorce rate in the world but besides that, Micronesia women share power with their male counterparts in Micronesian society. Women’s roles were complementary to the roles of men. Some Micronesian women contribute decisions regarding disposal of family land, and they have the “power to disinherit members of the family”, as well as the imposer of taboos regarding the use of both land and sea.
For Qatar and Micronesia, the roles and benefits of both societies do compensate well but for Melanesia however it is a pity to see PNG and Vanuatu, two of the most vibrant countries, both given big responsibilities in hosting regional events and international meetings, both being very important members of the Melanesian Spear Head Group and yet, not one is able to elect a woman into Parliament.
For Melanesia, Fiji has 7 MP’s after the last election held and Solomon Islands has 1.