Monday, June 24, 2013

Women in Pacific lawmaking bodies: Samoa sets pace for women in parliament

FSMIS (June 24, 2013): The Pacific News Agency Services ran a report today on an unprecedented act of parliament in the Pacific that took place on June 24 in Samoa.
Forty-four parliamentarians in Samoa voted unanimously in favor of a constitutional amendment bill that reserves 10 percent of the seats in Parliament for women candidates.
"It's a new dawn for women," Speaker of Parliament, La'auli Leuatea Fosi was reported to have said.
The world has changed and mothers have achieved advanced expertise gifted them by God which should be used to benefit the country, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said regarding the unfolding situation.
Comes next general election in Samoa, parliamentary configuration will usher in a new bottom-line gender distribution in the Parlimentary of Samoa,  based on the new constitutional requirement passed by MP's today.
This "act of parliament" news comes in handy (depending on how one looks at it) as the Federated States of Micronesia braces for the National Law Day debates on July 12 where four high schools will argue a parallel proposition:
Be it resolved that the FSM Constitution should be amended to create an additional At-Large seat in Congress for each of the four states, election to which shall be open to only women candidates.
This proposition had met consideration of FSM Congress when introduced as Congressional Bill No. 15-169 on  November 27, 2008 and revised for reconsideration on June 29, 2012 as C.B. No. 17-147. In both instances, the proposed change only "sparked discussions" among parliamentarians. It was even voted down in a "mock congress" at the FSM National Women Conference in July 2012. 
With repeated public scrutiny involving various sectors of the population, and given the fresh decision from Samoa's lawmakers, the topic seems to have gained added fervor in the slowly modernizing Pacifc context.
The Pacific region has  had been criticized for having the least direct women involvement (presence) in law making bodies in the world.

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