Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Leaders vow to improve gender equality record

Pacific leaders have made a commitment to increasing the numbers of woman parliamentarians, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said yesterday.

Many Pacific countries do not have any female MPs, let alone women in positions of leadership.

Many of the countries are with Middle East countries at the bottom of tables compiled by the Inter Parliamentary Union.

New Zealand is rankest the highest of the countries in the Pacific Islands Forum with 41.6 per cent of its MPs being women.

After discussions with forum leaders, Mr Ban said they had discussed expanding opportunities and democratic participation for women in the region.

"There is much room for improvement," he said.

"Today I heard the genuine commitment from the leaders to improve upon this record and ensure that Pacific Island countries can benefit from the power and potential of all of its citizens, particularly including women."

In 2009 Mr Ban's proposal to create a single UN agency for the promotion of gender equality was accepted by the General Assembly.

It merged four previous agencies to create UN Women.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is the only woman leader among the 16 countries of the forum.

• New Zealand - 41 women out of 122 MPs, 41.6 per cent, (ranked 17th highest out of 136)
• Australia - 37 women out of 150, 24.7 per cent, (ranked 38th )
• Kiribati - 2 out of 46, 4.3 per cent (ranked 123rd)
• Samoa - 2 out of 49, 4.1 per cent (ranked 125th)
• Vanuatu - 2 out of 52, 3.8 per cent (ranked127th)
• Tonga - 1 out of 28, 3.6 per cent (ranked 129th)
• Marshall Islands -1 out of 33, 3 per cent (ranked 130th)
• Papua New Guinea - 1 out of 109, 0.9 per cent (ranked 134th)
• Fed. States of Micronesia, 0 our of 14, (ranked 136th)
• Nauru - 0 out of 18 (ranked 136th)
• Palau - 0 out of 16 (ranked 136th)
• Solomon Islands - 0 out of 50 (ranked 136th)
• Tuvalu - 0 out of 15 (ranked 136th)
Source: Inter Parliamentary Union, results are for lower or single houses at July 2011.

- NZ Herald

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