Now Is The Time: Papua New Guinea unites to end gender-based violence #endGBV
Celebrating a milestone event after the signing of the outcome statement and recommendations to successful close the national summit. ©CHawigen/UNDP
Women of Papua New Guinea jumped to their feet, dancing in celebration of a milestone achieved, at the first national summit on gender-based violence (GBV) in November 2020.
Gathered at centre stage in the APEC Haus — a culturally significant new monument built to host world leaders and summits — a joyous festivity closely followed the reading and signing of the outcome statement and recommendations. Women danced, and chanted.
“It is now time to end gender-based violence”.
“It is time for PNG to be united for equality”.
Waves of cheers reverberated in APEC Haus, on the foreshore of the national capital Port Moresby.
Ending GBV in PNG now has a voice
Members of the Coalition of Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence signing the outcome statement and recommendation. ©SKepa/UNDP
This historic moment involved the co-chairs of the Coalition of Parliamentarians Against Gender-based Violence, Governors of the National Capital District (NCD), Hon. Powes Parkop, and East Sepik Province, Hon. Allan Bird took the statement to parliament that led to the formation of the first-ever Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-based Violence. With this committee, the journey towards ending GBV in the country at a political level will begin. The Parliamentary Committee will provide oversight and accountability; a responsibility that they had not undertaken in the last 45 years.
The national summit, held from 8 to 10 November 2020, selected the theme, ‘Now is the Time: PNG United for Equality’. This brought together close to 750 participants. and represented the provincial governments, their respective province’s community development workers, civil society organisations, advocates, non-governmental organisations and parliamentarians.
Led by co-chairs Governors Parkop and Bird, they went on to say that “there’s no place for GBV in our community. Everyone has the right to equality, to be free from fear of expressing themselves as enshrined by the Constitution of Papua New Guinea.” Both of them are vocal in PNG’s Parliament and in the public arena on their stance towards GBV.
The national summit is part of a larger effort by UNDP Papua New Guinea to address GBV through the Global Spotlight Initiative that involves four UN agencies working together (UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA). This 3-year project is the largest initiative launched so far to end violence against girls and women globally, financed by the European Union. UNDP's role in the Spotlight Programme is focused on advancing legislative and policy frameworks, as well as national and sub-national systems and institutions and their coordination mechanisms.
Ensure better protection for children and women
PNG’s nationwide digital television network, TV Wan, Ms Hennah Joku, a journalist and programme producer, spoke at the summit’s youth side event about her ordeal of living in a violent relationship that lasted for two years.
TV Wan journalist and programme producer, and GBV advocator, Ms Hennah Joku spoke at the summit of her own experiences.
Ms Joku hopes that this summit will spur people to take action on this issue and provide proper support to victims of GBV.
However, she said that “there is still a gap in information, especially among youth.” She went on to say that It is important that they know about their rights. This includes strengthening the enforcement process, providing witness protection for victims seeking justice and ensuring that changes are made to better protect children and women at the policy level.
The outspoken TV journalist has been an advocate of ending GBV and has utilised her influence as a TV personality to highlight the changes needed to ensure equality for all.
“We need less talk time and more action”.
The summit was a follow up to the High-level meeting on GBV, supported by the United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea in partnership with Coalition of Parliamentarians Against Gender-based Violence and the National Capital District Commission. The Summit is a follow up to a series of meetings in August 2020 following the tragic death of the late Jenelyn Kennedy, a teenage mother who was brutally tortured to death by her partner. Her untimely death brought widespread condemnation on GBV throughout Papua New Guinea.
“Currently there are many victims still unable to seek help, especially rape victims for fear of their lives,” Ms Joku said.
“More constructive outcome is needed. What protection is there to immediately give a woman the security she needs to get to safety, then pursue justice knowing the system of nepotism we have in the country? The GBV parliamentary committee is crucial.”
What is needed now, Ms Joku says, is “to focus on one specific goal at a time. For example, funding to Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) Units immediately so they can do their jobs”.
Ms Ruth Kissam, the Director of Development for the PNG Tribal Foundation, has been personally involved in the GBV space since 2017. She has also facilitated a session on referral pathway status, challenges and recommendation,
Director of Development for the PNG Tribal Foundation, Ms Ruth Kissam. ©CHawigen/UNDP
“We’ve had all the numbers of sorcery accusation-related violence, GBV included, increasing at an alarming rate. One of the things I really wanted to see are politicians [who are] willing take ownership of the national GBV strategy,” she said.
The answers lie within
Dame Carol Kidu, a former parliamentarian in the ‘Leading the Change’ session, highlighted that inequality is an issue that affects everyone and is the root of the current high rates of GBV.
She spoke passionately about her experiences as a parliamentarian and an advocate for women and girls’ rights.
Dame Kidu has been vocal on addressing women and girls rights in the country. ©CHawigen/UNDP
“The coalition of parliamentarians to end GBV is a step towards the right direction. We need to discuss GBV with every member of parliament in the country and make sure they take it back to their District Development Authority all the way down to their Local Level Government.
“The answer lies with PNG. We’ve got to do this ourselves. We do need support, we need our friends from overseas, we need our development partners, but the answers lie within.”
“Our country will not prosper without women. Women are the pillars of our nation" - Governor of National Capital District, Papua New Guinea, Hon. Powes Parkop.
On accepting the outcome statement and recommendation for Papua New Guinea’s Parliament, Hon. Powes Parkop delivered a passionate endnote. “Our country will not prosper without women. Women are [the] pillars of our nation. 45 years on, we have left women behind, subjected them to so much violence… tribal violence, street violence, gender-based violence. Violence has cost our country so much, holding our nation back.
“We can make a real difference, to realise the potential [that] our country is capable of,” the Governor said.
For more information on the Coalition of Parliamentarians Against Gender-based Violence in Papua New Guinea, see: www.pngu4equality.com
Participants in this event are asked for feedback to help the Coalition ensure that next year's Summit is even better. Complete survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HB3286P
Meet. Greet. Inspire. Embrace: 1st ever meeting of Spouses of Parliamentarians
Spouses of Parliamentarians - with special guest Lady Betty Toroama, Spouse of the President of Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Photo: courtesy of Prime Minister's Media Unit.
Spouses of parliamentarians led by Madam Rachael Marape, wife of Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape and Lady Betty Toroama, wife of Autonomous Region of Bougainville President, Ishmael Toroama have stood in solidarity to become active participants in empowering women in their communities - by networking and building a coalition to support the development of Papua New Guinea.
This meeting came as a direct follow-up to the National Gender-based Violence Summit held from 8 to 10 November.
The meeting held at Parliament House on 10 November focused on Women's Economic Empowerment and how they, as leaders in their communities, become vocal in encouraging women to speak up. Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and members of the National Executive Council were present to welcome and support the initiative.
Madam Marape on welcoming everyone to the gathering said this was a historical moment with the Theme 'Meet and Greet, Inspire and Embrace'.
She said it was important for spouses of leaders to unite and strategize on how they can play a role and contribute towards women's empowerment.
“Studies and research clearly show that investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth,” she said.
“We as women know we make enormous contributions to our families as spouses, mothers and caregivers. We also contribute to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.”
Madam Marape acknowledged the presence of Lady Toroama and looked forward to more collaboration and partnership between women of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
Lady Toroama reached out to the women of Papua New Guinea. She said it was now time to work together with the women of Bougainville.
Prime Minister Marape gave his assurance on addressing gender-based violence through the Outcome of the National Gender-based Violence Summit and recognised women’s economic empowerment as a key strategy to break the cycle of violence and other social ills.
UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Dirk Wagener, said UNDP was proud to be a part of this historical moment.
He highlighted the importance of having women's representation in parliament adding that since independence there have only been seven women in parliament.
“Everyone has an opportunity to be involved in politics including women. But for PNG, it’s not an equal playing field. The government needs to create opportunities for women and to make sure that there are more,” Mr Wagener said.
This event was arranged by Madam Marape, through the Office of the Prime Minister and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its sister agency the United National Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
Zero violence against women & girls: Coordinate #EndGBV services at Provincial levels
A participant stressing a point during the workshop. ©CHawigen/UNDP
Work continues on Gender-based Violence (GBV) prevention mechanisms beyond this month’s National GBV Summit, with thirty-two participants from throughout Papua New Guinea completing a two-day meeting of Provincial Government officials to discuss and agree on approaches to strengthen coordination of response and prevention services.
The two-day Spotlight Provincial Coordination Workshop was convened in collaboration with UNDP – as part of implementation of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative - and the interim National GBV Secretariat of the Department of Community Development and Religion (DFCDR). Participants who attended were provincial community development advisors, FSVAC coordinators and two deputy provincial administrators – social services, from Morobe and East Sepik provinces.
Secretariat for Community Development and Religion, Mrs Anna Bais said PNG, as a nation, can proudly say that it has the laws and policies in place to protect and empower its people.
“The challenge for us is really enforcing some of these laws, from the national to the provincial right down to the village level," said Mrs Bais.
"I’d like to thank UNDP for its support. It is evident that from here onwards our collaboration, our partnership will only get stronger, we will need each other to report on the implementation on many of the reforms”.
UNDP Resident Representative, Dirk Wagener, said this was a unique opportunity to “start working together and build coalition to address Gender-based Violence in your province and across your regions.”
“For the first time, bringing together leaders and key stakeholders from provinces to discuss and to be able to create the change Papua New Guinea needs. Gender-based, sexual and family violence is a strain on Papua New Guinea. Violence against women and girls in Papua New Guinea is a pandemic,” said Mr Wagener.
Provincial participants attend a group discussion session. ©CHawigen/UNDP
The 11 spotlight provinces are Hela, Enga, Southern Highland, East New Britain, Morobe, NCD, Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Simbu, East Sepik and Eastern Highlands provinces. The five priority provinces for UNDP specifically are Southern Highlands, Hela, Enga, ENB and Morobe.
Participant Ms. Thelma Hungito - Coordinator for Family Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) Secretariat Office, Morobe Provincial Administration - acknowledged UNDP’s support for this timely session as well as her attendance to the national GBV summit.
“Hearing what colleagues from the other provinces have done, and their progress towards setting up of their Provincial GBV Secretariat office is a motivation. It shows that everyone is working tirelessly to end GBV in their communities,” said Ms Hungito.
According to the 2016-2018 Demographic Health Survey, almost two thirds (55.6%) of Papua New Guinean adult women experienced physical violence in the last 12 months and one third (28.2%) experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.
“Violence against women and girls is a manifestation of gender inequality and systematic gender discrimination. Unfortunately, PNG ranks 159 out of 189 countries on the UNDP Gender Inequality Index, reflecting high inequalities existing in women’s health, education, political participation, and economic status,” said Mr Wagener.
PNG has made great progress in creating a robust and progressive policy and legislative framework for the prevention and response to violence against women and girls. To this end, the government passed the law on family violence, child protection, repealed Sorcery Act, amended Criminal Code.
PNG meets climate change Safeguards for REDD+
PNG can now have access to climate financial mechanism to continue on with addressing climate change in the country. ©M.Isoev/UNDP
Papua New Guinea can now proudly say it has met the requirements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Warsaw Framework for REDD+.
The recent successful sanctioning of the REDD+ Safeguards Information System (SIS) Framework by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the PNG Government, is a final requirement to REDD+ under UNFCCC following the endorsement of the National REDD+ Strategy in 2017.
This means that PNG can now access the climate financing mechanisms, having met the requirements of the four key elements of REDD+ :
i) A National REDD+ Strategy ii) a Forest Reference Level National Forest Monitoring System iii) Safeguards information System, and iv) the achievement of emissions reduction from the forest sector.
UNDP’s implementing partner, Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) will work with partners across government and civil society to strengthen existing and new systems of safeguards in PNG.
Managing Director of Climate Change and Development Authority, Mr. Ruel Yamuna, said this is a milestone achievement.
“Under the leadership of our Minister for Environment Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Wera Mori, we have now successfully completed the four mandatory requirements under the Cancun Safeguards. A job well done to the REDD+ team with support of our good stakeholders and partners through UNDP among others for pushing this work forward over the years,” Mr Yamuna said.
UNDP Resident Representative, Dirk Wagener, said UNDP was delighted to be part of this effort.
“We will continue to work with the government on policy development while strengthening our relationship to continue exploring practical options to address climate Change in PNG," Mr. Wagener said.
"UNDP plays an important role as a development partner in the climate change arena and we will continue to do so”.
The team at CCDA will proceed to upload the Safeguards Summary of Information onto the UNFCCC website to make it all official. The summary of information outlines how all of the safeguards are being addressed and respected throughout the implementation of the REDD+ activities and also on a voluntary basis be reported via the REDD Web Platform.
UNDP supports regional consultations on review of PNG Forestry Act 1991
Participants during a group discussion. ©S.Moko/UNDP
More than 300 participants took part in a regional stakeholder consultation to review the Papua New Guinea Forestry Act 1991 (as amended).
The two-day consultation workshops were held across the three relevant regions of: New Guinea Islands, Momase and Southern.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Project team together with lead government agency PNG Forestry Authority facilitated the review of the application of the Forestry Act. The review explored ways to streamline and harmonise its sector legislation in line with the National REDD+ and other national development strategies.
Stakeholders shared their experiences, emerging issues and developmental trends related to forestry legislation as well as policy implications on landowning communities. Discussions were held on opportunities to harmonise the legislation with national, provincial and district regulations to ensure that the review is economically, environmentally and socially sound.
UNDP continues to make headway with valued support to the Government of Papua New Guinea.
Resident Representative, Mr Dirk Wagener, said UNDP continues to play an important role of supporting the national government to review its policy and legislation, in line with government’s medium term development targets, while also helping to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
“Together with the PNG Forest Authority and the Climate Change and Development Authority, a National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) was developed to guide the country’s approach to addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation,” said Mr Wagener.
UNDP supports target provinces to review Provincial Forest Plans
The Provincial Forestry Plans empower each provincial government to manage its forest resources by identifying uses and plan on development and management to receive benefits. ©M.Isoev/UNDP
UNDP in PNG Forest Carbon Partnership Facility REDD+ Project team undertook several missions to Madang, West New Britain and East New Britain Provinces, during November, to work with provincial administrations on revised Provincial Forest Plans (PFP).
The team, in collaboration with the Climate Change and Development Authority and PNG Forest Authority, worked with provincial technical working groups (PTWG) - comprised of each provincial administration’s Lands, Climate Change, Agriculture and Forestry divisional staff and key subnational stakeholders.
During these sessions, the revised PFPs were deliberated and accepted by the PTWG. The aim is to receive endorsement from each respective Provincial Executive Council.
The development of a Provincial Forest Plan (PFP) is a 5-year plan required under section 49 of the 1991 Forestry Act (as amended) - which empowers each provincial government to manage forest resources by identifying different uses, and plan accordingly on development and management in order to receive maximum benefits. The three provincial government’s PFPs were overdue for review, therefore, revised PFPs are required for 2021 -2026.
In West New Britain Province, John Suarim, spokesman for the Provincial Administration, commended UNDP for its support to the provinces and said, “We’ll ensure that we participate, contribute and make the PFP measurable and achievable. We are glad to have UNDP support the revision of the PFP in West New Britain, East New Britain and Madang provinces.”
Chief Technical Advisor of FCPF REDD+ Project, Mr. Mirzohaydar Isoev, said UNDP is a strategic partner and is proud to be part of these milestones. “This exercise supports climate change action and will contribute to resource and land use planning at the subnational level. It will encourage other provinces to replicate the review process in their respective provinces,” Mr. Isoev said.
YUS Conservation Area: Strengthening Protected Areas for people & forests
Together with Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme (TKCP), in Morobe Province, UNDP has supported YUS Conservation Area to conserve 162000ha of forests.
In the Yopno-Urua-Som (YUS) Conservation Area in the Huon Peninsula, Morobe Province, the UNDP-supported 'Strengthening Management Effectiveness for the National Protected Areas Project' helps to conserve over 162,000 hectares of forests.
Together with the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme (TKCP), an NGO that works with communities in Morobe Province, UNDP has supported the YUS Conservation Area since 2015.
Monitoring & Evaluation Analyst, Mr. Michael Sembenombo recently visited YUS Conservation Area to evaluate the activities supported by UNDP and to evaluate whether these projects had a positive impact on the community.
“The sustainable projects that have been taking place in the community have been a success. As part of the monitoring visit I got to see the different activities that were implemented for the betterment and growth of the YUS area, basically its overall progression,” Mr Sembenombo said.
Mr Sembenombo during one of the community consultations. ©M.Sembenombo/UNDP
As part of the livelihood programme, the conservation coffee project encouraged the community to grow coffee, harvest, sell and earn an income. It was evident that they were satisfied, and grateful for the opportunity, with coffee being an alternative source of income. Throughout 2015-16, coffee was sold locally and out to the world market.
“In one of the communities visited, we met a family consisting of three persons living with disabilities, two sisters and their brother. They did not see their disability has a hinderance. They were able to share responsibilities in conserving and harvesting coffee," explained Mr Sembenombo.
"They were also able to earn more through other initiatives, such as making bush hats, woven with the use of bush vines and sold within YUS and into other communities.”
YUS Conservation Area is also championing the ‘Junior Ranger Programme’ aimed at strengthening biodiversity conservation. The programme empowers children to become future conservation leaders by encouraging active stewardship of their natural resources - from preschool to teenage years.
“It was very interesting to witness, to see that our support has resulted in the improvement of people’s lives and livelihood activities, and from this being able to acquire a part of their land and forests for conservation purposes.”