Number of female Members of Parliament in Niue drops

The number of female Members of Parliament has dropped following the general election.

There were five female MPs in Niue’s Legislative Assembly prior to the election which has now dropped to three female MPs they are MP Elect for Tuapa Mona Ainu’u, Veteran politician, and Common roll member O’love Jacobsen and Vainga Tukuitonga who is MP-elect for Alofi north.   

Maureen Melekitama, who was the MP for the village of Mutalau lost her seat to Makaseau Ioane in a hat draw held on Tuesday, June 3rd.

Joan Viliamu who was a Common Roll MP lost her seat in the general election on Saturday, May 30th.   

The Assembly will now have 17 male MPs with only 3 female MPs.

Former Premier Young Vivian in his last term in Parliament from 2014 – 2017 proposed legal reforms to provide for reserved seats for women MPs.

However, there is reluctance in the population to accept the concept of reserving seats in the House for women.

According to a research by BCN senior journalist for the University of the South Pacific in completing her Post-graduate Diploma in Governance, 66 percent of the respondents do not agree that Niue should adopt temporary special measures such as a quota system or reserving seats for women.

Even during the campaign period for the 2020 general election, there were no mentions of or consideration for reserving seats for women but there was one candidate who campaigned to reserve 2 seats in the House for the youth.

BCN Journalist and Human Rights Advocate Esther Pavihi said based on the findings, there ought to be more awareness about reserving seats for women.

“It should not be seen as a weakness in women, but rather a recognition that there is an imbalance in power and reserving seats for women in parliament is one way of addressing this imbalance”.

There are more women in Niue than men with a population of 888 while the total number of men is 831, according to the last census of 2017

According to Pacific Women in politics, women have never comprised more than 30% of the membership of national parliaments in the Pacific Islands Countries since Independence (not counting Australia, New Zealand, and the territories of the United States of America and French respectively in the region), and the percentage of women in Pacific parliaments currently hovers at 8.8% (as of April 2020).

In comparison,  it states the Inter-Parliamentary Union reports that the world average of all elected members (as of 1st May 2020) is 25% women and 75% men.

In Pacific Islands Forum countries, not including Australia and New Zealand, as of January 2020, there are only 49 women MPs out of 560 MPs altogether who are currently sitting in their national legislatures.

Three Pacific island countries have no women in their national parliament: the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.

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