The Sub-Regional workshop on Special Measures for Women was held in Port Moresby on the 25 and 26 September, 2008 to raise awareness on special measures such as reserved seats and quotas with the end goal of addressing the issue of women’s representation in Pacific parliaments.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat together with development partners collaborated on this initiative and brought together reputable and highly skilled experts in the area of electoral reform and women’s participation in political processes to illustrate best practices and best models to suit our Pacific nations’ various electoral systems. More importantly however, was the participation of our national civil servants who brought with them the real expertise and experiences on the ground and the nuances of working in this arena.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW WORKSHOP PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS
In April 2006 in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, women Parliamentarians from the Forum Islands countries together with development partners, academics and civil society organisations met and agreed on the serious need to address barriers to women’s representation and participation in Pacific parliaments. (download meeting Outcomes Document)
Among other recommendations, Pacific women parliamentarians agreed there was a need for a series of sub-regional workshops to raise awareness on special measures vis-à-vis reserved seats and quotas and electoral reform to promote the representation of women in parliament.
While respecting the diversity of our Pacific cultures the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and development partners also recognise the vision of our Pacific Leaders of the need to ensure that all of our Pacific peoples are able to live free and worthwhile lives.
Addressing the low levels of participation of women in decision making is intrinsic to meeting this vision. Gender balance among political representatives is important for many reasons. Today the world regional average of women parliamentarians is 16%. Pacific countries have the lowest average by region of 3.1%. Research has shown that this shortage of women in political institutions may have serious consequences for the political agenda and more importantly the enunciation of women’s interests. Furthermore, at the core of this agenda is the recognition of women’s participation as an important aspect of a truly democratic institution. Leaders the world over recognized this when they committed themselves and governments to addressing the low levels of women’s participation via CEDAW, the Millennium Development goals, the Beijing Declaration, the Pacific Platform for Action and the Pacific Plan.