Why Can't Women Win? Impediments to Female Electoral Success in Solomon Islands

Centre for Democratic Institutions Discussion Paper No. 2014/01

20 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2014

See all articles by Terence Wood

Terence Wood

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

Date Written: July 1, 2014

Abstract

This paper discusses the challenges faced by women candidates in national elections in the Western Melanesian country of Solomon Islands. At present, Solomon Islands has only one female MP and, reflecting broader gender imbalances in Solomon Islands society, women candidates suffer a number of significant obstacles as they try to win elections. The paper argues that the key impediments faced by women are structural -- particularly access to campaign resources, and access to the support of local interlocutors -- as well as social, women being held to different standards to men. The paper also looks at what might be done to increase candidate numbers. Mandated seats for women would clearly help, beyond this though solutions are less obvious. Reflecting, in part, the structural nature of the challenges women face, female candidate training as it is currently undertaken does not appear particular effective, although if well-designed it may help around the margins. Providing funding to women candidates is one potential alternative means of increasing their chances of winning; however, given practicalities and sensitivities, it would be very difficult for external actors to do this effectively. Working over time to strengthen networks that link potential women candidates to voters, on the other hand, would be less problematic and, while not a magic bullet, given the nature of electoral competition in Solomon Islands and the need for local interlocutors, offers some promise of success.

Keywords: voting behavior, voter behaviour, gender, women candidates, Solomon Islands

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Wood, Terence, Why Can't Women Win? Impediments to Female Electoral Success in Solomon Islands (July 1, 2014). Centre for Democratic Institutions Discussion Paper No. 2014/01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2488795 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2488795

Terence Wood (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy ( email )

7 Liversidge Street
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory ACT 0200
Australia

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