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Women in Politics


Changing Face of Parliament? Three Women Elected in PNG

  ^ Delilah Gore, Loujaya Toni and Julie Soso at the PNG MP Parliamentary Induction

The 2012 national election saw a step forward for women’s political representation in PNG. After 36 years as a nation, only four women had been elected to the national parliament. The decision by the sole female member of the 8th parliament, Dame Carol Kidu, not to re-contest her seat gave rise to the possibility that there would be no women representatives in the 9th parliament. But, in results that gave great encouragement to many in PNG and the region, three women were elected in the recent elections: Delilah Gore (Sohe Open), Loujaya Toni (Lae Open), and Julie Soso (Eastern Highlands Provincial).

CDI is delighted to report that two of the three women, Loujaya Toni and Julie Soso, participated in the Women Candidates Training Strategy designed and implemented by PNG’s Office for the Development of Women with technical assistance from CDI and financial support from AusAID. This strategy was the most extensive program of pre-election advice and training provided to women candidates anywhere in the region. Seventy-four women candidates, and their campaign managers, were guided through workshops on developing campaign messages; creating campaign plans; fund raising and managing campaign teams; and candidate legal obligations. This initial training was followed by tailored feedback sessions on campaign progress, media techniques and public speaking. Ms Toni and Ms Soso have both publicly acknowledged the value of the training, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that ‘Toni credits her victory over 25 male candidates to win Lae in part to training provided by AusAID and the UNDP'.

There have been some exaggerated statements in the PNG media about gender balance now having been achieved in thePNG parliament. Few women nominate as candidates (only 3.19% of candidates were women) and the election of just 3 women to a parliament of 111 is clearly a long way short of equality. But, nevertheless, it is a success worth celebrating.

Our observations during the election indicated that women candidates still face substantial challenges when contesting elections in PNG, including:

  • traditional attitudes that politics is man’s business
  • ‘big man’ politics and money politics
  • lack of financial support
  • intimidation and threats of violence.

It is notable also that PNG’s major political parties continue to display little interest in endorsing women candidates. Prime Minister O’Neill’s People’s National Congress Party endorsed one women among 89 candidates. Former PM Somare’s National Alliance Party endorsed two women out of 74 candidates. While neither Opposition Leader Namah’s PNG Party (88 candidates) nor former Prime Minister Chan’s People’s Progress Party (40 candidates) endorsed any women candidates.

On the other hand, Don Polye’s Triumph Heritage and Empowerment (THE) Party (which endorsed three women out of 73 candidates), has the impressive record of seeing two of its three women candidates returned: Delilah Gore and Julie Soso are both members of THE Party. Loujaya Toni was endorsed by the Indigenous People’s Party.

The three new women MPs were enthusiastic participants in the Induction Program for MPs recently convened by the PNG Parliament and CDI. It is clear that they are interested in a wide range of policy and service delivery issues and have much to offer the parliament and their communities.

Click on the links below for more on the PNG Women Candidates Training Strategy and our broader work with PNG including the recent MP induction program:

Papua New Guinea Women Candidates Training Strategy Candidate & Campaign Manager Training completed for 2012 Elections
PNG | Parliamentary Induction for New and Returning MPs | Port Moresby | 22-24 August 2012
WCTS Preparatory Workshops - Reporting & Materials:
PNG Women Candidates Training Strategy | Train the Trainer Workshop | Port Moresby | 15-18 August 2011
Women Candidate Training in PNG – Strategy Endorsed by GoPNG | Lae | 22-23 March 2011
WCTS Press Release & Coverage, PNG & Australia:
'Preparations that went into getting women in Parliament' | Post Courier, 21 January 2013.
'Why so few female Pacific MPs?' | SBS Radio, 28 September 2012
'Poet and Firebrand finds herself in good company' | Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2012.
'Women urged to contest polls' | The National, 20 April 2012.
Press Release | Australian High Commission Port Moresby | Female candidates complete training for 2012 elections | 19 April 2012.
'Women training to promote free and fair elections' | Post Courier, 18 April 2012.
'Women taught how to stage poll campaigns' | The National, 13 April 2012.
'Donor efforts on women candidates applauded' | Post Courier, 13 April 2012.
'Poll training program for women to begin' | Post Courier, 12 April 2012.
'Time for Women to Represent the Pacific' | Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September 2011.
'Meet to Strategise Women Candidates' | Post Courier, 16 August 2011.
'A benchmark for women in politics' | Post Courier, 23 March 2011.
WCTS Support and Foundations:
Prime Minister Julia Gillard | A new chapter in Australia-PNG relations | Canberra | 12 October 2011
CDI's Gender & Political Leadership Home Page









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The Australian National University

School of International, Political & Strategic Studies

The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) supports the efforts of democracies in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen their political systems. It provides training, technical assistance and peer support for parliamentarians, political party organisers and emerging leaders in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, with a particular focus on Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. CDI sponsors research and publications on political change and democratic governance.

Established in 1998, CDI is funded by the Australian Government. The Centre is based in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

© Centre for Democratic Institutions, The Australian National University. Please direct all comments to cdi@anu.edu.au. Last modified 28 August, 2014 CRICOSProvider Number: 00120C Web Counter



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