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Port Moresby, PNG – Rufina Peter is the first woman elected to Papua New Guinea’s parliament in a decade, before the historic win it was one of only three countries without a woman in parliament.
Peter who is an agricultural economist has served with the PNG Cocoa Board, the government’s Department of Agriculture and Livestock, before moving to the Institute of National Affairs where, among other activities, she served Pacific Farmer Organisations member, PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation.
President Maria Linibi shared that a leadership program for women in 2012 supported a crucial call to prepare women for politics.
“She was one of our nominees for the Australian Rural Leadership Program for Women in preparation to joining politics. Several others were nominated but barely made it in this election because of the ongoing violence leading up to and during the elections period which disrupted votes.”
Peter first stood as a candidate in the 2017 Papua New Guinean General Election but was unsuccessful and at the time attributed the lack of success of women in politics to “the general feeling in the country that politics is a man’s world and that women are ill-equipped to become political leaders.”
She was one of 167 women in the 2022 General Election running for the hotly contested 118 seats, compared with 3,458 men.
Peter said the current political environment promotes corrupt practices and there were insufficient resources available for candidates to campaign, citing that tribal leaders play a big role in voters’ decisions, and of whom are mostly men.
She was successful in the Central Province Regional seat and became the governor of the province as well as a member of parliament, the second woman to become governor of the province, after Dame Josephine Abaijah.
She stood as a member of the People’s National Congress Party and beat Robert Agarobe by 62,361 votes to 58, 917.