IT’S an international and national obligation for our government to recommend reserved seats for women in parliament.
In our modern political era, women are under-represented and our successive governments have rectified international conventions like Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on 6 May 2002.
According to Lesley Kwaiga, a local prominent Lawyer and a member of special legislative taskforce established by the Ministry of Women, Children and Youths Affairs on legislating Temporary Special Measures (TSM), he said: “TSM is established under article 4 of the CEDAW act which is basically to promote gender equality and preventing actions going against women.”
“TSM also provided the basis for realizing the equality between women and man through ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life—including the right to vote and to stand for election—as well as education, health and employment,” according to a CEDAW statement.
Mr Kwaiga further adds that the legislative taskforce has been established to consider options on temporary special measures including elected reserved seats in parliament for women.
“But actually no work has been done but in 2008 our women leaders started to step forward with the work on raising active awareness on the issue.
“In 2009 the Sikua led government attempted to introduce the temporary special measures policy paper (bill) for parliamentary seats for women but unfortunately the constitutional amendment never went through.
“In 2010 Lilo led NCRA government went another step further in their policy when they declared 10 reserved women seats in the parliament; although it was encouraging nothing prevailed,” he said.
Data from recent RAMSI People’s Survey tends to confirm that women would have the same successive rate at elections but many face obstacles along the way than men.
“Our task force was top priority is to expand women’s political participation,” said Kwaiga.
“Today our hope is for greater political will to address the under-representation of our women in political, which remains one of the largest gender gaps in the country.”
He argues that the solutions are out there but they need to be implemented with urgency and real determination.
“Political parties also have a key role to play by getting more women women to stand.
“By giving gender equality to potential women candidate will allow winnable seats for women in parliament, which they will create, are more level playing field,” said Kwaiga.