The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute’s (PNG NRI) Gender in PNG research team carried out phase one of the Women in Elections study from 15 June to 30 June 2017. The study focused on three women candidates namely Loujaya Kouza, Sharon Mathias and Miong Kila in Lae and Huon Gulf open electorates in the Morobe province. Following our first blog which discussed some of the technical issues that impact on women candidates (see here), this second blog depicts the women candidates’ campaign journey and how polling unfolded through photographs.


Photo 1Photo 1: Lae Open candidate, Sharon Mathias, highlighting her key policies at four-mile area in Lae during her campaign rally (16 June 2017).


Photo 2Photo 2: Lae Open candidate and then sitting MP, Loujaya Kouza delivering her campaign speech and voter education at her campaign ‘haus’, Ambisi area of Lae (18 June 2017).


Photo 3Photo 3: Due to limited logistical support, Huon Gulf Open candidate Miong Kila used a male candidate’s campaign ‘haus’ at Wampit community to deliver her key policies (22 June 2017).


Polling day (29 June 2017):


Photo 4Photo 4: Two polling booths labelled in Tok Pisin and English in Lae top town area that allow for people to cast their votes freely in secrecy (29 June 2017).


Photo 5Photo 5: Despite the first-time application of separate lines for male and female voters, some women were still being influenced or intimidated by male relatives on their choice of candidates. Photo was taken at the St. Pauls Primary School in Lae (29 June 2017).


Photo 6Photo 6: A voter in Lae checking her name on the common roll during polling day (29 June 2017). Many eligible voters did not have their names on the common roll.


Photo 7Photo 7: Ballot papers in Huon Gulf open during polling (29 June 2017). Although the correct electoral procedures were in place, a common problem was that the ballot papers distributed were not in proportion to the voting population which caused tension in some places between voters and polling officials.


Photo 8Photo 8: A voter in Lae placing her finger into the indelible ink before casting her vote during polling in Lae (29 June 2017). The ink was not effective and we witnessed an eligible voter removing the ink on his finger with an alcohol swab, which indicated high chances of multiple voting.

The photographs tell part of the story of women candidates’ election journey and women as voters. The pictures portray that although women candidates must work extra hard to be elected, and there is a need to improve administration issues in future elections that impede the women’s winning chances. The Electoral Commission must improve electoral roll, training, number of polling days, security, and education and awareness right down to the community level.

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