29 May 2009

Cook Islands take first official step towards more women MPs

1:40 pm on 29 May 2009

Participants in a workshop aimed at increasing the number of women in the Cook Islands parliament say it's an important first step towards gender balance in government.

The two-day conference is a joint initiative between the International Development Law Organisation, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, the Gender and Development Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

The Gender and Development Division's director says the aim of the two-day conference is to develop 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.

Ruth Pokura says changing women's attitudes is the biggest challenge.

"Even women that is supposed to be supporting women in the decission-making here in the Cook Islands have some reservations on we shouldn't have affirmative actions for women, why are they having this special thing, there are so many questions about it, they should be just the same treated as men."

Ruth Pokura