By Angela Marie Watkins
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
AVARUA, Cook Islands – A Cook Islands political group says using affirmative action to get more women into parliament is wrong.
The Group for Political Change was responding to a two-day conference held this week in the Cook Islands aimed at developing a temporary measure, such as reserving seats for women, to increase women’s parliamentary representation to 30 percent. At the moment, women hold three out of the 24 seats.
The two-day conference was a joint initiative between the International Development Law Organization, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, the Gender and Development Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Participants in the conference claim that increasing the number of women in the Cook Islands Parliament is an important first step toward gender balance in government.
A founding member of the Group for Political Change, Elizabeth Ponga, says the Cook Islands society would definitely benefit from having more women MPs but that using affirmative action and bypassing the democratic process to vault women into parliament are wrong.
Ponga speculated that with a democratic political system it will only be a matter of time before there are more women in Cook Islands politics.
For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – Cook Islands take first official step towards more women MPs – 30 May 2009
Radio New Zealand International – Cook Islands activists say affirmative parliamentary action for women wrong – 30 May 2009