The Coalition of Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence met earlier this week to discuss their plans for the coming year, including their efforts to support reserved seats for women in the National Parliament ahead of the June 2022 national elections.
The meeting brought together nine of the Coalition’s twenty members in-person, namely Co-Chairs
Governors Powes Parkop and Allan Bird, Parliamentary Committee on GBV Chair Charles Abel, Minister Jelta Wong, Minister Timothy Masiu, Governor Garry Juffa, Tony Wouwou, John Kaupa and Richard Masere.
The Coalition Members were given a presentation on the Government’s efforts to promote women in parliament by the Attorney General, Dr Eric Kwa. Dr Kwa advised that the NEC had only very recently signed off, in principle, on a proposal to reserve five elected regional seats for women. One regional women’s seat will be created for five regions.
In order to have five elected regional seats, there will be need to be a change to the current regional configuration of provinces. The regions for the five seats will be New Guinea Islands, Momase regions, Highlands, East Papua and West Papua regions. There will be a change to divide the Highlands and Papua regions in to three regional seats for women: Highlands (Jiwaka, WHP, Enga, EHP, Simbu), the West Papua region (SHP, Hela, Gulf, Western) and the East Papua region (NCD, Milne Bay, Oro).
The new elected women’s seats would be open to women candidates only. Once elected, the women MPs would have all the powers and privileges of ordinary MPs. The details of the reforms now still need to be drafted in detail, in anticipation of tabling legislation in the next August session of parliament. Because s.101 of the Constitution will need to be amended to allow for these 5 reserved seats for women, the amendment Bill will need to be considered at three successive parliamentary sessions, ideally to be completed in March 2022 in advance of the June 2022 elections.
Coalition Co-Chair Hon. Powes Parkop, MP and Governor for National Capital District strongly supports women’s reserved seats as a way of ensuring the National Parliament can benefit from ‘a diversity of voices and experiences.
“We expect these women MPs can use their position as elected leaders to continue to work to break down the barriers that hold women back across the country from political leadership and can strive to promote equality. These need to be seen as TEMPORARY measures. They are not to be in place forever.”
Governor of East Sepik Province, Allan Bird, also a Co-Chair of the Coalition, said that in the lead up to the 2022 elections, the Coalition will work with “our brother MPs to balance our next Parliament with the equal inclusion of women’s voices. Reserved seats are not the only answer to addressing the challenges our women face when they run for elections, but it is a quick, short-term measure that could ensure that never again do we have a Parliament
with no women’s voices whatsoever. That can never be allowed to happen again.”
Hon. Charles Abel, Member for Alotau and Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender Based Violence agreed.
“As a first step, we need reserved seats for women immediately”, he said. “Prime Minister Marape’s consideration of law reforms to reserve seats for women encourages us, as does the work of the Integrity for Political Parties and Candidates Commission to push for political parties to nominate more women candidates in the
Reserved seats for women are not a new concept globally nor in PNG. In Bougainville, there are three seats reserved for women, and three seats reserved for ex-combatants. In NCD, there are two reserved women’s seats in the Motu Koitabu Assembly. Samoa also has a minimum quota of 5 women in every Parliament, and the French Territories of French Polynesia, Tahiti and Wallis & Fortuna also apply a quota for women.
At the conclusion of the meeting of the Coalition on Monday 26 April, all members reiterated their support for reserved seats for women in advance of the 2022 national elections. Already, a number of MPs have produced public service announcements calling for more women in parliament, which can be viewed on their website at
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical support to the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV as part of its gender programming and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and the Women Make the Change Project. This support aims to address Gender-Based Violence and support longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.