Women candidates in New Guinea Islands do well


By Elizabeth Vuvu
WOMEN candidates who contested the general election in the New Guinea Islands region fared reasonably well.
This year only 18 raised their hands to contest various seats.
In 2012, 22 women contested.
Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Manus had the highest number and West New Britain, which fielded eight in 2012, did not have any women candidate in this election.
Autonomous Region of Bougainville had six in this election compared with five in 2012, East New Britain had two this year compared with three in 2012 and four in New Ireland, the same number as in 2012.
NIP returning officer Iven Lakatani said businesswoman and a candidate for the Kavieng Open seat, Ruby Waraniu Kerepa did well in the race and managed to remain among the top four before national Alliances’s Ian Ling-Stuckey was declared the winner.
Manus election manager Sponsa Navi said in the race for the Manus open seat, independent candidate Olivia Simbel managed to remain among the top 10.
Another candidate in the Manus provincial seat, Theresa Akas also had a good race.
In East New Britain, the only woman candidate for the provincial seat, Lanieth Aua, put her hand up again after trying out in 2012.
Cathleen Baragu Schulz also put her hand up to compete with 24 males for the Kokopo open seat.
A documentary by United Nations Development Programme and Al Jareeza documented women power in the national election and Baragu spoke about women empowerment and maintaining transparency for the people of Kokopo.
In Bougainville, candidates Rachael Konaka and Marcellin Getsi Laris made their second attempts in these elections.
Lakatani and Navi agreed there needed to be more awareness and exposure for women candidates in communities so people knew their intentions as to why they were keen to represent the people in parliament.
Navi said these days money was an important factor and women needed to have capital support or have backing from a recognised political party.
Lakatani said that in a male-dominated society, what women had demonstrated in the elections showed they could do better.
“With insufficient time to campaign, women must develop their strategies beforehand,” Lakatani said.

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