SAMOA LEADER SEEKS INCREASE IN WOMEN LAWMAKERS

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Tuilaepa backs legislated minimum 10 percent in parliament

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 4, 2011) – Samoa’s Prime Minister says he would like to see women make up a minimum of 10 percent of the country’s parliament and he wants legislation to guarantee it.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielagaoi says the Attorney General’s office is reviewing the Electoral Act and he wants any amendments to be approved and in force by the next general election in 2016.

Tuilaepa says he is conscious of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which seek a better gender balance in parliament.

[PIR editor's note: In 2008, the Samoan Parliament publicly acknowledged the need for more women to take part in government at the launch of the official Commonwealth Women’s Parliamentarian Association. However, a former minister for women's affairs in Samoa said women were not making progress in Samoa's political scene, and the voting population needed to be educated.]

He says only two of the current 49 parliamentarians are women, down from four in the last term, and he fears for the next election.

"If we do not put in the necessary stipulation in our legislation one never knows whether in the next election there be absolutely no women in parliament. So this is part of our intention to ensure that there shall always be women in parliament."

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielagaoi says most parliaments without any women representation are in the Pacific region.

[PIR editor’s note: Malielagaoi had previously "ruled out Samoa implementing reserve seats for women."]

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