18 Jan 2012

Kiribati rules out special women's seats

6:39 pm on 18 January 2012

Kiribati's newly re-elected president has ruled out introducing special measures to increase women's political participation during this term.

Three women were elected to Kiribati's 44-seat house after October's parliamentary elections.

A number of Pacific countries, including Papua New Guinea and Samoa, are investigating special measures to guarantee women seats in parliament, with the region having extremely low numbers of women representatives.

The President, Anote Tong, says his government would encourage greater participation.

"But I just wonder whether it would be democratic to put as a matter of law that women must have reserved seats. I think what we must always be careful of is the culture and the tradition must be ready to accept that."

Anote Tong says greater women's participation will happen of its own accord, with women taking on leadership roles in different sectors of the community.