Women’s Under-Representation and Special Measures in the Tongan Parliament
Tonga’s parliament has never seen more than two women representatives in a single parliamentary term, and there is no sign of a gradual improvement in women’s representation over time. Special measures — that is, legislative reforms to increase women’s political representation — can be controversial developments, but in this context the institution of special measures would be a means to guarantee the presence and the contribution of women in parliamentary politics. Women activists in Tonga have mostly advocated either a reserved seat model or a ‘safety net’ model of special measures. This In Brief sets out the cases for and against these two models, with examples from the Pacific islands region, and conclude with a brief discussion of the Tongan political context.
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