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By Barney Orere in Port Moresby

The five reserved seats for women being put forward by Papua New Guinea’s special parliamentary committee on gender-based violence has been rejected by women and a petition is on its way to demand different proposal.

The women will petition the parliamentary committee to voice their disapproval about the five reserved seats idea and raise other related concerns.

Women in Politics president Maria Hayes told the Post-Courier that women represented half the population of the country and women leaders took offence that an attempt was being made to sideline them.

“Talk about gender-based violence!” Hayes said. “It is an insult.

“Women represent 50 percent of the country’s population; we do not have to stand on the side to be considered whether we are good or not.

“Parliament is mixing up gender-based violence with women in leadership which are two different issues.

“There is no structure in place so it is a farce; an election gimmick to lure women’s votes in next year’s national general election.”

The women are firm over their demand for 22 reserved seats and expressed disappointment that women in leadership was being narrowed down to gender-based violence.

They envisaged women’s decision-making in Parliament to be of much broader scope, encompassing all other areas of law-making and implementation.

They point to previous work done on temporary special measures in which women advocates believed being elected rather than having appointed seats to be the best way forward.

Under such a scheme, which they supported, 22 seats would be reserved for women.

This, they said, was the demand for women in PNG and they stood by it.

The idea currently being mooted is five reserved seats for women on the basis of region.

But PNG has four regions – the Highlands, Mamose, Southern and the Islands – which means there is a proposal to split Southern in half.

Barney Orere is a PNG Post-Courier journalist.

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