PRESSURE is mounting on members of parliament to vote today to pass legislations to increase the number of women representatives in the house.
The campaign to pass this legislation had gained momentum with women leaders from different parts of the country flying to Port Moresby this week to drum up support from their MPs.
And, yesterday, entrants to the Miss South Pacific beauty pageant added their voice to this cause by signing a statement of support. Ten of them signed, saying: “Women of the Pacific are watching this parliament for the vote.”
The bill, if passed, will have 22 seats reserved for women. It sought to amend section 101 of the constitution. To succeed, it needed an absolute majority of 72 MPs voting in favour of the bill.
Women leaders hoped parliament would sit right through this week and next week to entertain the bill and other important legislations pending in the house.
But, with the opposition’s budget reply at the top of the agenda today, and talks of a vote of no-confidence, there were speculations the government might adjourn parliament after the budget is voted on.
On the other hand, if the government is secured in its numbers during the vote on the 2011 budget, it would bring in the women’s bill and others to be deliberated and voted on.
Leader of government business and Minister for National Planning and Implementation Paul Tiensten did not provide a clear strategy yesterday, saying the government caucus would meet today to discuss how to handle the budget and the bills.
The government risked invoking the ire of women leaders and supporters of this legislation if it defers the bill.
“A lot of effort and resources have gone into this, and the least we expect is for the bill to at least make it to the floor to be voted on,” a woman representative said yesterday.
Because it was an important constitutional legislation, MPs will vote through resolutions along party lines.