This is a special Women in Politics series for the Australia-PNG Network, in which the Lowy Institute's Jessica Collins sits down with prominent women from Papua New Guinea (PNG) to discuss the deep-seated challenge of women’s political representation in PNG.
In this fifth and final episode of the series, Jessica speaks with Dame Carol Kidu, about the discrimination and disadvantage experienced by indigenous Papua New Guinean women as they seek to get elected.
Carol is one of seven women who served in PNG’s National Parliament. She also managed to get re-elected twice, despite half of all politicians losing their seat at every election.
Carol’s tenure as a politician is remarkable, but she said her husband’s legacy and her European background helped secure ongoing community support. She often heard from her community, “We don’t mind you being here, but we don’t want our own women here [in parliament].”
Carol talks us through the issues that are increasingly disadvantaging women during campaigns, such as bloc voting and tribal intimidation, campaign or cell houses, violence, and financial barriers. But she offers a silver lining: “PNG is a nation based on relationships, and if you can nurture relationships, that will get you into politics.”
Join Jessica and Carol as they talk through why women getting elected is critical to PNG’s development, and as she shares her views on what women need to do to get over the line at the upcoming election.
Jessica Collins is a Research Fellow in the Pacific Islands Program and Aus-PNG Network at the Lowy Institute. Prior to joining the Institute, Jessica completed a PhD in Anthropology at the Queensland University of Technology. Jessica also holds a Master of Global Development from Griffith University. Her Honours research project, completed at the Queensland University of Technology, explored diasporic life for Samoans living in Brisbane, and her undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney focused on the anthropology of the Pacific.
Dame Carol Kidu served in Papua New Guinea’s National Parliament for three terms (1997-2012). Between 2002 and 2012, Dame Carol was the only female in Parliament. She served as Minister for Community Development, and as Opposition Leader for her last five months in office. Dame Carol is now supporting other women to get elected to its all-men parliament.