The New Zealand Parliamentarians' group on Population and Development (NZPPD) welcomes the news that 18 women will be contesting the 4th August elections in the Solomon Islands.
At only 2.5%, the Pacific region has the lowest number of seats held by women in national parliaments of any region in the world. The developed regions of the world have an average of 24% seats held by women, and even a developing region such as Sub-Saharan Africa has an average of 18% seats held by women according to the latest Millennium Development Goals Report. At this stage, the Solomon Islands has none.
The NZPPD strongly supports more women to become actively involved in political life, to ensure a more balanced representation in parliament. The NZPPD believes the Solomon Islands would benefit greatly from having more women in parliament.
“Through our work with NZPPD, we have learnt that women in the Pacific region face many challenges that are often due to their unequal status to men, yet their issues are not being prioritised by their governments. A higher representation of women in parliament would ensure women's issues are prioritised more on the political agenda” says Dr. Jackie Blue MP, NZPPD Chair.
Data in the Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Study suggests that women's status in households and society is low. Incidences of violence against women is particularly high, with 64% of women aged 15 - 49 reporting having experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Also, the high maternal mortality rates in the Solomon Islands reflect a need for more political commitment to ensure pregnant women have access to the maternity care and facilities they require.
“Women's representation in politics is fundamental to democracy. It allows other perspectives and knowledge to contribute to policy discussions. The people of the Solomon Islands have a real opportunity at the upcoming elections to see to it that they can enjoy the many benefits of having women in their parliament” says Dr. Jackie Blue.