PNG PARLIAMENT STILL A MEN’S CLUB

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 5) - Nahau Rooney, the only woman candidate for the post of Governor-General has been rejected.

She is not in the hunt for the top Konedobu Hill post, for which elections are to be held on next Tuesday when Parliament meets.

Despite her qualifications and suitability for the vice-regal role, Mrs Rooney did not muster the required number of endorsements from members of Parliament to get into the race. Social Services Minister Lady Carol Kidu — the only woman in Parliament who proposed Mrs Rooney’s name must be disappointed — but that is perhaps putting it rather mildly.

Once again members of parliament have demonstrated the long-held view that Papua New Guinea’s National Parliament is truly a man’s house. A woman dared not enter it — let alone assert her constitutional role as a people’s representative with equal status and rights as her male counterparts if elected. For in the man’s house, the men rule supreme — that is the culture we appear to have accepted.

At the general elections, voters rejected all female candidates except Lady Kidu. Her re-election shocked her opponents but many were pleased she was returned. Lady Kidu retained her Moresby South Open seat because of her own credibility and integrity as an honest, trustworthy, hard working leader who has consistently shown concern for the needs and aspirations of the thousands of grassroots people in her electorate.

As a Cabinet minister she has performed way beyond expectations. She has introduced legislation in Parliament to protect children against sexual abuse, formulated policy on the rights of children and also legislation on the informal sector of the economy. She is a great role model for young PNG women and girls and her role in national politics proves beyond doubt that women can be good, if not, better leaders than men if given a chance to prove themselves.

PNG has a long way to go in recognizing women as men’s partners in national development. In many professional fields our women have excelled. Time will tell but the rejection of Mrs Rooney might have just ignited a new fire in PNG’s political landscape.

May 5, 2004

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

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