By ELIZABETH MIAE
THE proposed Bill to have provincial reserved seats for women in parliament will only be tabled in the next session of Parliament later this year.
The Bill was endorsed by the National Executive Council at its recent meeting in Kimbe, West New Britain province, and has been put on the notice paper for a month as required under the Constitution.
This was made clear in a press conference yesterday by Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu and her technical team of experts who drafted the bill.
Dame Carol and her team took the opportunity to clarify the public’s misunderstanding about the reserved seats for women in Parliament.
“This is not the nominated seats for women, this is the reserved seats for women through the elections,” she said when referring to the Bill.
“We have done our homework thoroughly and everything that we are doing is constitutional.
“Women do have equal opportunities in theory but from experience and reality, they (women) don’t have equal opportunities to win.”
According to a brief report provided by the team on Feb 17, the NEC considered a joint policy submission from Dame Carol and Intergovernment Relations Minister Job Pomat to seek endorsement of drafting instructions, Bills and Explanatory Notes to amend the Constitution, the Organic Law on National and Local Level Elections and the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments to create provincial reserve seats for women.
The NEC approved the submission.
The report stated the model used for reserved seats for women was the creation of two-member provincial electorates of which one seat is reserved for a female member who occupies the woman’s seat and the other is reserved for the member who occupies the governor’s seat.
The features of the model include :
* The female member represents the province but is not the governor;
* Her constituency is the women and men of the province;
* She sits in the provincial assembly and Parliament;
* She is eligible to be appointed as a minister and the chairperson of a parliamentary committee; and
* She may sit in provincial committees and is eligible to vote for and to be elected deputy governor.
Leader for the legal team on reserved seats, Prof Eric Kiua, said women candidates could either stand for the governor’s seat, the reserved seat or the open member’s seat in the national elections.
He clarified that the reserved seats for women would in no way replace the governor’s seat unless the governor is given a ministerial portfolio, then she is eligible to be elected as governor.