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There has been an increasing number of women candidates standing in the elections in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the last twenty years. Nonetheless, the political culture and electoral setting are inhospitable for women. This makes it difficult for them to participate in politics effectively. With no legislated temporary special measures implemented in PNG to date, women vying for national representation are encouraged simply to keep contesting until they get elected. Theresa Meki’s research makes an original contribution in examining the nature of campaigning in PNG through a gendered perspective.
In this pre-submission seminar, Theresa Meki highlights that campaigning today is fundamentally about establishing leadership credibility. To the voter, having credibility means demonstrating that one can deliver or provide services if elected. In examining the campaign procedure from the perspective of female candidates, the gendered nuances and gender bias of PNG politics become apparent. In building credibility, recruiting komiti (campaign committees), organizing travel logistics, and even deciding upon campaign rhetoric, gender-specific accommodations must be made. When evaluating candidates, voters use implicitly or explicitly gendered measures.
This presentation provides further contextual evidence and empirical analysis to support the claims that the PNG electoral space is not a level playing field, women candidates are not equal participants, and ‘campaigning like a man’ will not necessarily benefit women competing in a hostile political environment.