It’s an historic week for Papua New Guinea (PNG) as it hosts, for the first time, one of the powerful forums in the region and in the world – the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).  Leaders from the world’s powerful countries of USA, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, The Philippines, Peru, Mexico, Malaysia, Hongkong, Chile and Brunei are here discussing a common future for enhanced cooperation for sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

The exposure will indeed give PNG the much needed economic mileage, the policies of which will be made by our legislature.  Since there are no women in the current National Parliament (2017 – 2022), there is possibility that gender-specific issues may not be adequately considered in the national policy development.

Economic policies affects everyone so our perspectives must be heard.  But when you have a legislature that is not representative of everyone in the economy, the pool lacks inclusivity.  Our legislature needs more inclusive and representative voices if we are to rise up at par with the rest of the APEC economies.

So why should the Government care about having gender-inclusive economic policies?  Women bring diversity of thoughts and different sets of skills, experiences and leadership style to the table.  There’s a saying that men think with their heads and women think with their hearts.  Countries that have inclusivity of this diversity seem to do well.

Furthermore, women’s economic empowerment is a tool for development.  Many studies have shown that when you empower a woman economically, the benefits goes beyond financial gains.  You develop an household, a family, and a community that make up a nation.  There will be improvement in health, education, nutrition and living standards.

I shared this and my 2017 National Election experience on the discussion panel for the topic ‘Women In Leadership’ at the ‘APEC Discussion Series at the Precinct’.  I’m deeply grateful to the Australian High Commission in PNG for inviting me to their programs on leadership and the Australian Government for supporting the development of ethical and capable leaders in Papua New Guinea.

Let us now look at female representation in legislature in the 21 APEC economies.

Country No of Seats in National Parliaments No of Seats Held by Women Percentage President / Prime Minister
Mexico 500 241 48.20%
New Zealand 120 46 38.33% Ms. Jacinda Ardern
Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) 113 43 38.05% Ms. Tsai Ing-Wen
The Philippines 292 86 29.45%
Australia 150 43 28.67%
Peru 130 36 27.69%
Canada 337 91 27.00%
Vietnam 494 132 26.72%
China 2980 742 24.90%
Singapore 100 23 23.00%
Chile 155 35 22.58%
Indonesia 560 111 19.82%
The United States of America 428 84 19.63%
South Korea (Republic of) 300 51 17.00%
Russia 450 71 15.78%
Hong Kong (China) 70 11 15.71%
Malaysia 223 31 13.90%
Japan 465 47 10.11%
Brunei Darussalam 33 3 9.09%
Thailand 246 13 5.28%
Papua New Guinea 111 0 0.00%

As you can see, Mexico has the highest female representation in their legislature at 48.2% whilst Papua New Guinea has 0%.  New Zealand has a woman Prime Minister Ms. Jacinda Arden whilst Taiwan in 2016 elected its first female President, Ms. Tsai Ing-Wen.

The international average for female representation in national legislature is 22%.  Eleven (11) APEC economies are above this average whilst 10 are below.  Notable is the United States of America just below at 19.63% and my country Papua New Guinea, the host of 2018 APEC at zero percent.

In my next post, I’ll do a comparison of the corruption index of each of the APEC economies.

Happy APEC Weekend PNG!


Reference for statistics:  Women in National Parliaments

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