Gender, Politics and Power in New Caledonia

Kerryn Baker

This chapter explores women’s engagement in politics in New Caledonia over time. Despite widespread resistance to western conceptualisations of feminism, women’s organising in New Caledonia has a long history. Although women’s movement has historically been fragmented along ethnic and ideological lines, a strong women’s coalition emerged during the debate over the French parity laws. Activists from both the pro-independence and loyalist sides of politics campaigned strongly to ensure the parity laws would be implemented in the territory. These laws, and the advocacy from local women’s groups, have ensured that since 2004 women have been represented in New Caledonian politics in near-equal numbers to men. Men still dominate key positions of political power, and in the complex political environment of New Caledonia, gender is just one political identity among many, making issues of representation fraught. Yet women’s increased access to politics has had a substantive impact in New Caledonia: enabling the articulation of diverse viewpoints, enhancing women’s status as leaders and increasing attention paid to key gender policy issues. Building on a long history of women’s participation in decision-making, collective action and political activism in the territory, the parity laws have created an expanded political sphere for women.

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Research Type(s)
Book Chapter
April 18, 2024
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