Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Promoting equality in Samoa

The Pacific is the worst region in the world for political representation of women, with six of the region's ten Parliaments have no female MPs at all, the rest having a one or two. So now Samoa, which has only two female MPs in its 49-seat Parliament, is planning to do something about it, with legislation which reserves seats for women.

Unfortunately the proposed quota - 10% - is pathetically low, and well short of the 30% minimum recommended by the UN [PDF]. But its a start, and it will hopefully allow Samoan women to build to greater levels of representation.

Meanwhile, with female representation expected to fall here thanks to National's sexist selection techniques, maybe we should think about doing the same. In proportional representation systems, the standard method is a legislative requirement for 50:50 representation on party lists, usually by alternating the gender of candidates ("zipper lists"). One of our parties - the Greens - already does this. What's disturbing is that 108 years after women gained the vote, and 18 years after we switch to MMP, the others don't.