Will reserving special seats in Parliament for women solve our problems as a country?

Letters

WHAT is the real purpose of creating 22 reserved seats for women in Parliament?
Are outsiders, or foreigners, pressuring us to take this up?
We have fallen for the gifts and loans of foreigners and have now become their puppets.
Reserved seats in parliament cannot really the critical issues we are facing in the country these days.
These extra seats will come with:

  • Increased expenses – Currently we have 111 seats. When we add four (provincial seats) and possibly another 18, we will take the number of seats up to 133. Take into consideration that these 133 members of parliament will have people working under them and we will soon see things like salaries, remunerations and administrative expenses increase. Much will be spent up there and less reaching the majority of the population out in the rural communities. Sadly our mothers out in the rural areas are seeing very little change in basic services and development. They might not see anything if the number of seats increases.
  • Duplicate representations – The 111 who contested and were voted in through the normal voting system represents people from their open electorates and provinces, who include women. Whatever developments and services they bring will also benefit women. The Minister for Community Development represents youth, religion, and women. If the 22 women get into parliament, they will also represent women in each of the 22 provinces they represent. Literally, women will have four representatives in parliament: Minister for Community Development, provincial governor, Open electorate member and provincial women member. Four people representing a minority within a population means a duplication of everything, like four people representing one woman.
  • Discrimination – If this bill is successfully passed and these four or 22 women go into parliament, it is likely that there will be an increase in unfair treatment or teasing among the groups – those voted in through the normal voting process and those through the reserved seats, or between men and women. Those four former parliamentarian women had surely gone through these themselves. They have had discriminatory remarks or teasing from their male counterparts during their terms.

When this ‘Bill of 22 reserved seats for women’ is passed, there will be two sets of parliamentarians coming in through different voting processes or legislations.
They will surely challenge each other on who competitively and legitimately earned their mandate and, who took it from a golden platter.
If the country is really willing to see more women in parliament, then let them be voted in through the current and normal democratic voting processes and laws, rather than by special treatment.
Let us exercise real parity when we talk about equality. Also if it is the will of God, women in this Christian country can compete equally against men and win.
Here is what I think can be done:

  • Awareness – We are in a country where customs and traditions allow only men into the meetinghouse and that is the way God wants it to be. Much awareness needs to be done so we can help women get into parliament.
  • Political party support – Each political party should nominate women candidates from throughout the country during the national election and those women should be given the means by which they can contest on an equal footing. The four former women who once graced the floor of Parliament got there under their own steam with the help of the party they represented. They have proven that women can compete equally against men and still win – when given the right support and assistance.

Here is something to think about. In 1 Samuel 16: 1-13, God sent Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a king among the sons of Jesse, a man whom God had chosen (God did not ask Samuel to look among the daughters of Jesse). The seven eldest sons passed before Prophet Samuel but no one was chosen. Samuel asked again and the last and youngest one was brought before him. His name was David.
God had chosen David to replace Saul as the King of Israel.
Fellow Papua New Guineans, our country is rich in minerals like gold, copper, nickel, gas and oil, yet we are poor. Despite all the wealth, our country is cash-strapped.
World financial organisations, banks and foreign countries are taking advantage of our situation and forcing their ideas upon our government because we have borrowed from them.

Kanaka Plesman, Mdg

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