PNG Women’s Forum

I was privileged to attend the PNG Women’s Forum held on March 1st – 3rd at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby.

The Forum was co – hosted by the United States Embassy, the Department for Community Development and the Tribal Foundation.

Topics include advancing gender justice and economic opportunity for women and participants throughout the country were nominated to attend this forum.

Priority for participation was given to women serving in leadership roles within their own community and civil society groups, individual women leaders and women’s empowerment advocates, female business owners, emerging young leaders, up and coming public servants, and men with a strong interest in women’s empowerment and gender.

The discussion that captured my interest was on Leadership and Mentorship and it was on Developing Women Leaders.

This discussion was introduced with this beautiful quote, “Because real equality in the workplace and the home will make all of us better off. When we use the full talents of the population, our countries and companies are more productive. When men are 50/50 partners at home, marriages are stronger. When men are active fathers, their children are healthier, happier, and more successful.”

The panelists include Dame Carol Kidu, (Former Minister for Community Development), Theresa Jaintong (President, National Council of Women), Arianne Kassman (YACA Coordinator, TIPNG), Joshua Kiruhia (Communication/Project Officer, Equal Playing Field) and Kepas Paon (Women’s Advocate, Former Director Law and Justice Sector Secretariat).

Each of the panelists gave their views and shared their stories on women leadership in PNG.

Dame Carol Kidu challenged the women and told them to leave the forum knowing that one’s size will not fit into another. She spoke on women’s influence traditionally, stating that women have certain roles in society, for example they are peace makers and told the forum that leadership doesn’t belong to an individual.

Theresa Jaintong told the forum that women in PNG have come a long way and by now the purpose and direction of leadership must be very clear. She said organizations and work places must be balanced to achieve results, and women must now know when to ask for help and must be uniting with other similar minded people. Women must also change the conversation in the way we talk.

Arianne Kassman spoke on her leadership in the international and national level in dealing with youth issues and her passion in being an advocate for climate change in the Pacific and how she was mentored by her female bosses to realize her potential.

Joshua Kiruhia is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and spoke positively on women issues in the country.

He stressed that women and girls must not be considered as sex objects and it’s time we change that perspective.

Kepas Paon shared his experience on Domestic Violence, he came from a home where his father was always beating his mother but as a child back then he didn’t know what to do but he’s now a strong advocate for violence against women.

This Forum is an eye opener for me and I hope to participate in more of such forums in future.

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