Since independence, women have been underrepresented in Papua New Guinea’s national parliament. Given that PNG is predominantly a male-dominated society, women have struggled to get into leadership positions. However, PNG’s political history shows that seven women who have contested in their respective electorates have been elected into parliament. This shows that women can contest and win elections. However, politics has not been an equal playing field for women in PNG and they are often faced with challenges that hinder them from winning elections.
This article is based on the findings from a recent study carried out in the Huon Gulf and Lae districts of the Morobe Province by Fairio and others on women in the 2017 national elections in PNG. The study found that political leadership at the national level continues to be a challenge for women in the country. A range of key factors hinders women candidates from winning in national elections. These include negative perceptions or gender stereotypes, electoral irregularities and financial and logistical constraints, which make it even more difficult for women to win. This article focuses on electoral irregularities, specifically common roll update and vote buying which are the most common irregularities in PNG.