“We’re in the top three where there are no women in parliament and yes, that’s really humiliating,” she told SBS News during her campaign in the capital, Port Moresby.
Luciel Paru is campaigning for a seat in the Parliament of Papua New Guinea. Source: SBS News / Stephen Armbruster
Sylvia Pascoe, another National Capital District candidate, is a successful young entrepreneur who founded the city’s popular weekend markets.
“It [having women in parliament] we will be perceived as a modern, progressive-minded country. It’s embarrassing, international perception,” she said.
It’s embarrassing, international perception.
Sylvia Pasco, candidate for election
Built in the early 1980s, PNG’s stunning Parliament Building incorporates many traditional designs on its façade promoting equality for all, men and women. But since PNG gained independence from Australia in 1975, only seven women MPs have been elected.
Papua New Guinean parliamentarians at the farewell of former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to parliament in 2017. Source: SBS News / Stephen Armbruster
“What we need here is a change in terms of women stepping into parliament and making these changes, we need gender balance,” Ms Parou said.
After examining the culture of “big people and big money” in the country, political scientist Gijjay Milli of PNG University agrees.
“They took care of gardens, pigs, children, but we need these skills to be applied at the national level if we want our country to move forward.”
In this election, which began on 4 July, one of the few electoral reforms was the introduction of gender-segregated queues, which allowed women to vote calmly and with their own voice.
The characteristic parliament building of Papua New Guinea in the capital Port Moresby. Credit: John Seaton Callahan/Getty Images
“If the men were here, we would be scared, but the women are here, so we feel comfortable,” said one woman, Elisabeth, as she queued to vote in the provincial capital of Hela, Tari, a city notorious for its troubled reputation. and violence during elections.
Some 3,500 candidates are running in the election, with the phased ballot lasting about three weeks.
Candidate Sylvia Pasco wants to see a generational change in Papua New Guinea politics. Source: SBS news / Stephen Armbruster
Ms. Pasco is supported by the People’s Party and is another of 164 women running for office.
“We have an obligation to make this happen in my lifetime, I’m not going to wait and talk about it in 20 years. Now I will be a part of it,” Ms. Pascoe said.
Gidjay Milli of PNG University is among those calling for a legislative quota of women in parliament, known as reserved seats, as a starting point.
But on the quotas, opinions were divided.
Women line up to vote Tuesday in Papua New Guinea’s elections. Source: SBS news / Stephen Armbruster
“Why should I give a free seat if I’m fighting for it? And if I get it and know that I have the support of the people,” said Ms. Paru, a Pangu Pati candidate.
“I was the first female aeronautical engineer in PNG to break into a male-dominated area and they didn’t give me a free ticket.”
I was PNG’s first female aeronautical engineer, breaking into a male-dominated area, and they didn’t give me a free ticket.
Luciel Parou, electoral candidate
This concept is complex in the PNG culture with 850 different languages in a population of about nine million.
Political scientist Gijjay Milli would like to see a quota of women in the Papua New Guinean parliament. Source: SBS news / Stephan Ambruster
“We don’t have words in every language to clearly explain what reserved seats are, so I think women will face backlash if they get into parliament this way,” Ms Pascoe said.