Vote hailed as milestone for women in PNG

Jo Chandler – Sydney Morning Herald – Monday, 28 November 2011 (originally published 24 Nov)

Women of Papua New Guinea and Dame Carol Kidu
Dame Carol Kidu, PNG's sole elected woman in Parliament, sponsored the Women's Bill. Image: Jason South

WOMEN danced, wept and embraced outside the Papua New Guinea Parliament yesterday as years of campaigning culminated in a watershed vote to allow 22 reserved seats for women in the almost exclusively male chamber, where just one of 109 seats is presently held by a female.

With time running out before the 2012 general election, expectation and anxiety were high among supporters of the bill, with women loudly admonishing MPs from the packed public gallery when the debate was delayed on Tuesday.

But encouraged by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, the constitutional amendment to allow the women’s seats, one for each province, was eventually passed by 72 votes to two, with several members abstaining and some absent . . .