The Impact of Electoral Systems on Women’s Representation in Pacific Parliaments

Jon Fraenkel

The Pacific Island states have the lowest level of women in parliament in the world. Only 4.1 per cent of members of Pacific parliaments are women, well below the world average of 16 per cent. Levels of women’s participation in parliaments also vary markedly across the region. The New Caledonia and French Polynesia territories have been able to attain higher than average levels of women’s representation, owing to their usage of list proportional representation systems and because of their adoption of a ‘Law on Parity’. Elsewhere, the picture is much bleaker. Nauru, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu are among the very few countries in the world to have zero women in their parliaments. Papua New Guinea, Tonga and the Marshall Islands each have only one female MP, and Cook Islands, Kiribati and Vanuatu have only two. Gender inequality in Pacific parliaments is often not simply a reflection of women’s performance in education or their position in the top echelons of the civil service. Often, women have been advancing strongly in these areas over recent decades. Yet elected assemblies remain largely male-controlled affairs, owing to institutional, political, cultural and socio-economic factors.

Research Type(s)
Report – Not peer reviewed
Submitted by Toksave
March 22, 2021
Published in
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