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21 December 2021 | dataset

Women’s Representation and the Use of Reserved Seats in Bougainville

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville introduced the Pacific’s first parliamentary reserved seats for women system in 2004. While the system guarantees a minimum level of representation for women in the Bougainville House of Representatives, concerns have been raised that the reserved seats act as a ceiling for women’s representation and prevent women from successfully contesting other seats. No women candidates contested the 33 open seats in the 2005 election. In the 2010 election, five women contested open seats. All the women candidates contesting open seats lost in their constituencies.

There is a misconception in Bougainville that women are restricted to contesting only the reserved seats. It is unclear how widespread this is, but women’s groups have actively worked to dispel the myth.

Women who were elected in the reserved seats tended to have adult children, although some had younger families. Educational backgrounds were varied, from grade eight to tertiary educated. They tended to have had careers in the public service, and significant involvement in church, community and women’s organisations.

A significant factor in successful campaigns was access to resources, such as a candidate owning a personal computer to design and print campaign materials.

A considerable challenge for both candidates and members of the House of Representatives is the size of the reserved seat electorates, which are significantly larger than the open electorates. To campaign effectively for a reserved seat requires time and significant financial resources. Once elected, regional members are entitled to the same amount of discretionary funds as all other members, despite their electorates being much larger.

One potential method of increasing consistency would be to hold a ‘mock parliament’ for women. Many women felt a mock legislative session would be beneficial in both building the confidence of possible women candidates, and increasing women’s knowledge of legislative processes.

Data and Resource

SSGM IB 2014 2 0

This short paper examines the enablers and…

Field Value
Publisher Pacific Data Hub
Modified 10 May 2022
Release Date 21 December 2021
Source URL
Identifier 2f068416-a633-421a-bf11-b326835b2d52
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location Array
Relevant Countries Papua New Guinea
License Public
[Open Data]
Author Array