A HUMAN RIGHTS lawyer yesterday considered the prospect of New Caledonia’s future independence, which he said could become more remote because of the success of French legislation to enforce gender parity in politics.
Alan Berman, a visiting scholar at the University of Technology from the Griffith Law School, spoke at the UTS Haymarket campus yesterday in a seminar entitled French Colonialism, Kanak Nationalism and gender inequality in New Caledonia.
Berman examined the amendment to the French Constitution in mid 1999 that allowed for the implementation of a law on gender parity in politics in France, affecting New Caledonia as well. He discussed the impact of the law on the participation of women, including indigenous New Caledonian Kanak women, in the political affairs of the archipelago.
“The attempt to reach gender equity through the formal mechanism of the law on parity has significantly boosted the representation of women, including Kanak women, in political offices,” Berman said. “Women now hold the two most powerful positions in New Caledonia and occupy almost 47 per cent of the provincial offices.
“However, resistance to the application of gender parity in France and New Caledonia has had some negative effects, including possibly creating greater division within the pro-independence movement in New Caledonia.”
In the seminar, Berman looked at the unity this resistance generated amongst all women’s groups representing all ethnicities in New Caledonia, and examined why the similar laws on parity yielded disparate impacts in France and New Caledonia.