Are women making progress in PNG elections?
By Terence Wood
Are women becoming more competitive in national elections in Papua New Guinea? The obvious answer would seem to be no. In 2012 three women were elected; in 2017 none were. But looking at winners alone hides as much as it reveals. Even if women aren’t winning elections, the average woman might still be becoming more competitive.
If true, this wouldn’t change the fact that women face many political obstacles, but it would at least suggest some small-scale improvements were afoot. It might also suggest that aid donors, who have funded various attempts at assisting female candidates, were becoming more effective.
This week we released the latest iteration of the Papua New Guinea Election Results Database. The dataset contains results from national general elections in PNG spanning back to the 1970s. The latest iteration covers the 2017 general elections. It also affords the first ever opportunity to look at trends in female candidate competitiveness. This shouldn’t be the first ever opportunity, but comprehensive data on candidate gender don’t exist before 2007. And, unfortunately, most detailed results from the 2007 election were lost. And so, 2012 and 2017 offer our first ever chance to compare female candidate competitiveness over time. The time period is short – two elections – but it is a start. In our new discussion paper on the 2017 election in PNG, Maholopa Laveil and I compared the competitiveness of women candidates across the last two elections.
We started by looking at female competitiveness on first preference votes. The measure we used for this was the number of first preference votes won by each woman candidate divided by the number of first preference votes won by the candidate in their electorate who was leading after first preferences had been counted. We used this measure because a candidate who wins 1000 …read more