Abal gets behind proposed legislation

National, Normal

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigrations Samuel Abal has called on members of parliament to support the proposed bill on the reserved seats for women.
He urged MPs to examine their conscience, discard parochial and outdated interests and emotions to vote for this very important section of the population that had been under-represented in parliament ever since Westminster democracy was introduced in Papua New Guinea.
The Equality and Participation Bill had returned to cabinet for amendments to be made on certain sections.
Abal also agreed with Moresby South MP and Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu that the question of costs must not be an issue as women should be given these reserved seats.
He said the argument that women should also go to the polls and be voted into parliament as their male colleagues should not even be considered.
“A democracy, such as in PNG, is about representative government.
“So far, we have shown a singular disdain for electing our women into parliament. This is not fair representation at all,” he added.
“While it is true that men do represent women in parliament, the opposite will also be true with women in parliament.
“However, the point is that there are some attributes of leadership that women can understand and perform better.
“There are some characteristics and needs of the population, those pertaining to the family, for instance, that women can better addressed and resolve,” Abal said.
He said PNG voters had repeatedly chosen not to elect women representatives into parliament, and it was now upon parliament to ensure the reserved seats legislation was passed and enacted.
“This is a crucial duty of parliament and we, who are here today, are called to honour that duty,” Abal said.
“I should also like to recommend that there be a sunset clause in the bill so that it is time-bound to three terms of parliament, or 15 years, after which the seats should be automatically abolished.
“By then the country will have observed the work of women leaders and will be able to judge between electing men and women to parliament in free and fair elections with no special treatment,” he added.