Non-voting seats for women in FSM Congress

Temporary Special Measure

A bill for an act was recently proposed to amend “the Constitution of the Federated States of Micronesia, for the purpose of guaranteeing the representation of women in Congress by creating, as a temporary special measure, additional seats in Congress, and for other purposes.”

The bill C.B. No. 20-116 was introduced during the third special session of the FSM Congress in 2017 by Speaker Wesley Simina.

The bill proposes to include an additional 4 at large seats for women.  One from each state. The at large seats currently are 4 year terms.  The bill proposes that the seats for the women elected to these new at large seats be 2 year terms.  Additionally, the elected women senators would be non-voting members.  They may also be appointed as committee members and may participate in discussion and debate.

Reaction

In a recent Kaselehlie Press article the reaction to the bill was not pleasant. In an email to the Kaselehlie Press one woman said “This is the most degrading, demeaning, discriminatory bill ever”.  I agree with her.

I had a chance to ask my co-host on my podcast what she thought of the bill.  She had the same reaction.  I’ve also read some posts on the Facebook page, Micro-forum, that had the same reaction.

The analogy we used on the podcast was like being invited to a 4 year party, then being asked to leave after 2 years.  While at the party though, you weren’t included in any games or prizes.  You may be invited to sit and chat.  You may be invited to do other things.  At least you were invited, right? Who wants to go to that party?

Representation

As it stands, a woman can run for any seat in any legislative body in the FSM.  We have one woman in the Pohnpei state legislature.  One woman at the FSM supreme court.  We have about 5 women judges at the state and municipal government.  We have a woman Secretary of Health, a woman Secretary of Finance, a woman who is the Chief Public Defender.  We have even had a woman Attorney General of the FSM.  It is changing.

We are still waiting for a woman in Congress and at the executive branches of the national and state governments.    It really is a matter of time.  Maybe this bill for an act will push those women who were on the fence to run now.  Please do so ladies.  Change is coming.  Our cousins in the Marshall Islands elected the first woman president in Micronesia. Embrace the change.

Conclusion

What can you really say about a bill like that?

This blog is about change.  Our country needs a change. We shouldn’t stop it. We can’t stop it.

 

Check out my podcast and hear my wife and co-host’s reaction to this bill: Micronesian podcast