The much awaited Equality and Participation Bill will be tabled in Papua New Guinea’s parliament today.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the reserved seats bill was a priority agenda item of government.

He told a National Council of Women gathering at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby that it was imperative the reserved seats bill was presented in parliament for debate and voted on as soon as possible.

O’Neill said the participation of women in parliament was an important issue that had remained outstanding.

“Since coming into office, our go¬vernment has seen this as an important outstanding issue. That is why we are recalling parliament to seriously commence the process of legislating to include women as equal partners in the highest decision-making arena.”

Women had been pressing the go¬vernment to reserve 25 seats for women in the Papua New Guinea parliament.

O’Neill said his government was prepared to make women’s representation in parliament a reality.

Participation of women in the PNG parliament was low compared to other nations in the Pacific, he said.

“There is only one woman MP, which means that our statistics of female participation is 0.9%, a shocking indicator, clearly contradicting our Constitution and the various government development goals,” he said.

“We are rated as 136 out of 144 countries for having less than 1% of women in parliament.

“This is a shocking indication of our lack of real action to the commitments we have stated to our people in the Constitution and various development goals.