29 May 2009

Cook Islands activists say affirmative parliamentary action for women wrong

3:17 pm on 29 May 2009

A Cook Islands political group says using affirmative action to get more women into parliament is wrong.

Participants say the aim of a two-day conference held this week is to develop a temporary measure, such as reserving seats for women, to increase women's parliamentary representation to 30 percent.

A founding member of the Group for Political Change, Elizabeth Ponga, says Cook Islands society would definitely benefit from having more women MPs.

But she says using affirmative action and bypassing the democratic process to vault women into parliament is wrong.

"You tell me which country has that I have never known that kind of thing ever. I know that the other countries they also are trying to convince and try getting more women in but there's a lack of interest from women or there's a lack of...holding back... I don't know but there is no law at all preventing women to stand up and the men are just as encouraging of women to stand up as women should be among themselves."

Elizabeth Ponga says if the democratic process is followed, it will only be a matter of time - say five to ten years - before there are more women in Cook Islands politics.