By Erwin Encinares
A recent study released by Representation2020, a group that advocates for reforms in the recruitment process, voting systems, and legislative practices so that more women would enter public office, suggests that the big picture hasn’t changed much, with the federal government dominated by mostly men.
According to the gender parity index, or GPI, which rates women’s electoral success at the local, state, and national levels, the 2017 report finds that women are underrepresented across the board.
Since the Northern Mariana Islands is not a state, it did not get a formal gender parity score, but the GPI Report still tracks their progress toward parity.
“Unfortunately, their progress is only marginal. The Islands have never elected a female delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives or a female governor,” a statement from Representation2020 said.
Only five of the 15 seats in the Guam legislature are filled by women. That means 67 percent of the Guam legislature is filled by men. The CNMI has Rep. Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan) as the only two female House representatives and Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) as the only female senator. That means the CNMI House of Representatives is 90 percent male and the CNMI Senate is 89.9 percent male.
“In order to make progress toward achieving gender parity, the Northern Mariana Islands must elect more women to its Legislature and to the position of governor by recruiting and encouraging female candidates,” the statement adds.
“Changing rules and systems to create equality is part of the American tradition,” said Representation2020 founder and director Cynthia R. Terrell. “To win gender parity in our lifetimes we must pivot to system reforms that include gender targets for political action committees and political parties so more women run, fair representation voting systems so more women win, and updated legislative practices so more women can serve and lead."