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In this special Women in Politics series for the Australia-PNG Network, the Lowy Institute's Jessica Collins sits down with prominent women from Papua New Guinea discuss the deep-seated challenge of women’s political representation in Papua New Guinea in the lead-up to its national election.
In this first episode, Jessica speaks with Theresa Meki – an expert in Papua New Guinean women’s political representation – about the experience for women trying to enter politics in the country, where no women are currently serving in the national parliament. They discuss the realities and challenges of campaigning, including how vote-buying and clientelism, traditional obligations, reciprocity, patriarchalism and legacy candidates contribute to the uneven playing field for female candidates.
Theresa tells Jessica there have been years wasted in between elections to work on the problem. “We only talk about women when it's election time … And I think that's the issue. There was a whole five years that more things could have been done.”
Join Jessica and Theresa as they take you through these issues and present ideas on how to change the nature of women’s political representation in Papua New Guinea.
Theresa Meki is a PhD Candidate with the Department of Pacific Affairs, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on women’s presence and vote share in Papua New Guinea’s election history. Prior to commencing her candidature, Theresa worked as a field producer and research assistant for the DFAT funded Pawa Meri film project, a partnership between the Victoria University, Melbourne and the University of Goroka in Papua New Guinea.
Jessica Collins is a Research Fellow in the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute. Her research interests cover foreign aid and development policy in Pacific Island nations (particularly for Pacific women), Pacific migration, remittance policy, and Myanmar’s humanitarian and refugee challenges. 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.