In May–June 2015, the third Bougainville election since the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was held. The election was significant in terms of women’s representation. There were 35 female candidates, higher than in either the 2005 or 2010 elections; a record 12 stood in open seats, where they contested races against men, with the other 23 candidates standing in reserved seats.
The Bougainville House of Representatives has three reserved seats for women, along with three seats reserved for ex-combatants, and 33 open constituencies (the president is also a member of the house). A persistent question has been whether the reserved seats system leads to greater participation by women in decision-making, or whether it places a ceiling on women’s representation and limits women to competing against each other.
The 2015 election marked the first time a woman won an open seat. Josephine Getsi was elected in Peit constituency, ahead of 11 male candidates including the incumbent member. Her victory, joining the three women elected in reserved seats, brought women’s representation in the House of Representatives to 10 per cent. Getsi was then appointed to cabinet. This In Brief looks at key aspects of her election campaign and how they may have contributed to her success.