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  1. Paul Oates
    Paul Oates April 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Those PNG ladies who have been elected under the current electoral system have made it clear they do not favour dedicated seats for women. That’s a gutsy stand that should be given more support and media attention than it appears to have been reported at the moment.

    So will the problem of equal rights for women in PNG society be reflected in dedicated parliamentary seats for women? Male parliamentarians will still hold the vast majority of seats and any artificial constraint on eligibility is always open to abuse. PNG’s culture is indeed evolving but any amount of social engineering in Parliament will not automatically be reflected in the culture.

    Thinking laterally, perhaps dedicated seats for women might also then lead to a push for all other parts of the greater PNG society who feel they are underrepresented. Maybe they will claim they should also have dedicated parliamentary seats based on their percentage in society?

    Experience in other organisations, where those who belonged to a declared disadvantaged target group led in fact to creating policies of unequal employment, some achieved promotion faster with less experience and proven ability, simply because the organisation needed more numbers of each target group at each senior level.

    Constant requirements for statistical proof that unequal employment policies were being followed caused those in charge to adhere to this policy whether those who were from the target group wanted it or not. This policy also blindly accepts that all members of the target group also want what only some more vocal members and their followers are agitating to achieve.

    Surely those women who want to achieve advancement based on their own merit and without artificial assistance should be more actively supported? It also begs the question: are those who demanding unequal rights actually after equal rights or something more personally self enhancing?

    PNG has suffered from decades of difficulty when some ‘well meaning’ but misinformed rushed Independence through without there being a suitable number of local leaders who were fully equipped and ready to take over. Many PNG people are now recognising this problem for what it was. To be realistic and practical, social changes have to happen gradually and from the bottom up, not the top down.

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