Tuesday, 7 April 2009 10:06 PM

Reserve Seats

In my personal capacity, I believe there are several issues need addressing. These are: the reserve seats; barriers for women; gender equity; and quality leadership. The issue about democratic procedures is a non issue, as these are subject to amendments.

The issue at hand about women prevented getting into parliament for gender representation and participation in decision making needs thorough deliberation. I believe that part of that solution is the introduction of the Temporary Affirmative Action (TAA) measures by allocating ten reserve seats. Secondly, what prevented women getting into parliament is another interesting issue to find out. While there a numerous assertions, my observation tells me that the number of women contesting for past elections (both national & provincial) is far below than men. This could signal the likely chances of women's representation and winning election results. Other barriers could relate to cultural norms/attitudes, the voting culture-I take-I vote mentality, or other external influences. Thirdly, the issue on gender representation will have a bearing on the last issue of quality leadership. The belief that women's participation will make a difference is debatable. Giving away ten free seats is not necessarily a solution to quality leadership, which matters most but a solution to gender equity.

I believe not much has been done to support women in politics. I think until we exhaust all avenues of supporting and educating our current voting culture before we can afford for awarding free seats. There is nothing to indicate that women have tried enough/harder; they need to get more involvement, more work among themselves. However, some may believe that the temporal measures in place will lead the way and improvement in educating our voters and subsequently reduction in barriers. This is a good outcome if that is the case. One weaknesses is that the temporal measures could become a permanent measure and perhaps an increase in seats which might have cost and representation (constituency) implications.

On the one hand, PNG has early experienced divisions among women, since some of them claimed that their names were not included in the short-listing process. These are kinds of problems we could face in our case. Women creating division among themselves and the credibility of the criteria used for short-listing and who is responsible for carrying out evaluation, are some of the likely implications.

I conclude that what matters most is the quality of the decision making, irrespective of gender, or gender representation or number.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Adrian Alamu and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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