Newsletter April 2021

Coalition of Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence (GBV) signed their personal pledge to be "gold-standard" role models and take action against GBV for a safer Papua New Guinea free of gender violence. L to R: Hon. Gary Juffa, Governor of Oro Province; Hon. Richard Masere, Member for Ijivitari; Hon. Timothy Masiu, Member for South Bougainville; Hon. Powes Parkop, Governor of NCD; Hon. Charles Abel, Member for Alotau Open; Hon. Jelta Wong, Minister of Health & HIV/AIDS; Hon. Allan Bird, Governor of East Sepik Province; and Hon. John Kaupa, Member for Moresby North East. Photo: Clive Hawigen /UNDP Papua New Guinea

Coalition pledges to end Gender-Based Violence as Papua New Guinea endorses reserved seats for women

The Coalition of Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence (GBV) convened in April to agree on their 2021 Plan of Action, pledging to role model a “gold-standard” of behaviour: the same that they are calling on every Papua New Guinean to display.

Their pledge to address gender-based violence comes at a critical time. The last weeks have seen a steady stream of cases come to light of extreme violence against women and girls. The Coalition Members of Parliament are concerned at the numerous stories being reported of sorcery-related torture, incest and family violence, the sexual assault of children, and the abuse of police and security guard powers.

Coalition Co-Chair Hon. Powes Parkop stated that on a daily basis we are reminded of the extent of the GBV crisis facing the country. "Women and children deserve to feel safe in our communities. We all have to do more than we are doing now otherwise such barbarism might become the daily norm, culture and way of life in our country, if it’s not already.”

The National GBV Strategy was launched in 2016 and is supposed to guide the Government’s efforts to address gender-based violence across the country. In 2015, a specific Sorcery and Witchcraft Accusation Related Violence National Action Plan was also developed.

Reflecting on the status of the various national plans, Hon. Jelta Wong, Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS, stated: “The National GBV Strategy and its related Implementation Plan are very good frameworks for action, but we need the National Government to turn those plans into action. We need the Government to provide full funding to the National GBV Secretariat, so that they can actively drive and support change.”

Dr Eric Kwa, Attorney General & Secretary of the Department of Justice and Attorney General briefed parliamentarians on five seats reserved for women in the National Parliament, as endorsed by the National Executive Council. Photo: Clive Hawigen /UNDP Papua New Guinea

Coalition Co-Chair Hon. Allan Bird, Governor of East Sepik Province, continued by saying: “We also need Provincial Governments to set up their own provincial GBV Secretariats - and to develop their own provincial GBV strategies to identify local priorities. I include my own home province in this group.”

During the meeting, Coalition MPs discussed their role in addressing GBV, both as elected national leaders but also as members of their own local communities and families. They recognized the importance of role modelling ethical, respectful behaviour.

To that end, the MPs each signed their own Coalition Pledge to End GBV, which commit each MP to never: “Physically, emotionally, sexually or verbally abuse anyone, whether man, women or child; or bully, harass, or behave violently towards my family, my colleagues or my community.”

Together, the Coalition members stated:

Parliamentarians agree on plan of action at key stakeholders meeting. Photo: Clive Hawigen /UNDP Papua New Guinea

“I know that my actions matter. I know that change starts with me. And if I need help, I know that I need to seek it. Today, I solemnly pledge to do this wherever and with whomever so, that there is no longer a place for gender-based violence in our country.”

In concluding, the Coalition agreed on a number of steps moving forward. Five Coalition MPs are also members of the Parliamentary Committee on GBV and will use their positions as committee members to push for public hearings to discuss specific GBV issues and priorities, including prevention, law enforcement, public health responses and budgeting.

Dr Eric Kwa, Attorney General & Secretary of the Department of Justice and Attorney General briefed parliamentarians on reserved seats for women, subject to legislative changes. The National Executive Council (NEC) recently endorsed a proposal to reserve five (5) seats for women in the National Parliament, with five new regional seats to be created: Highlands region to be split into two regions). The seats would be for women-candidates only with the same voting and other privileges as other Members of Parliament.

The Coalition will provide updates on progress on their website at www.unitedforequalitypng.com.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical support to the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV as part of its gender programming and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, addressing Gender-Based Violence and longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.


MP's Coalition support 5 seats reserved for women in Parliament for 2022

Five elected regional seats reserved for women will require change of provincial configurations in: New Guinea Islands, Momase regions, Highlands, East Papua and West Papua regions. Photo: Clive Hawigen/ UNDP Papua New Guinea

The Coalition of Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence convened late April following a brief by Papua New Guinea's Attorney General, Dr Eric Kwa on support for reserved seats for women in the National Parliament in time for the June 2022 national elections.

The meeting brought together nine of the Coalition’s twenty Members of Parliament in-person, namely Co-Chairs Governor Hon. Powes Parkop and Governor Hon. Allan Bird, Parliamentary Committee on GBV Chair Hon. Charles Abel, Hon. Minister Jelta Wong, Hon. Minister Timothy Masiu, Governor Garry Juffa, Governor Tony Wouwou, Hon. John Kaupa and Hon. Richard Masere.

The Attorney General advised that the National Executive Council had signed off, in principle, on a proposal to reserve five elected regional seats for women. One regional women’s seat will be created for five regions.

In order to have five elected regional seats, the current regional configuration of provinces will need to be changed. The regions for the five seats will be New Guinea Islands, Momase regions, Highlands, East Papua and West Papua regions. There will be a change to divide the Highlands and Papua regions in to three regional seats for women: Highlands (Jiwaka, WHP, Enga, EHP, Simbu), the West Papua region (SHP, Hela, Gulf, Western) and the East Papua region (NCD, Milne Bay, Oro).

The new elected women’s seats would be open to women candidates only. Once elected, the women MPs would have all the powers and privileges of ordinary MPs. The details of the reforms now still need to be drafted in detail, in anticipation of tabling legislation in the next August session of Parliament. Because s.101 of the Constitution will need to be amended to allow for these 5 reserved seats for women, the amendment Bill will need to be considered at three successive parliamentary sessions, ideally to be completed in March 2022 - in advance of the June 2022 elections.

Coalition Co-Chair Hon. Powes Parkop, MP and Governor for National Capital District strongly supports women’s reserved seats as a way of ensuring the National Parliament can benefit from a diversity of voices and experiences. “We expect these women MPs can use their positions as elected leaders to continue to work to break down the barriers that hold women back across the country from political leadership and can strive to promote equality. These need to be seen as temporary measures. They are not to be in place forever.”

Governor of East Sepik Province, Hon. Allan Bird, also a Co-Chair of the Coalition, said that in the lead up to the 2022 elections, the Coalition will work with “our brother MPs to balance our next Parliament with the equal inclusion of women’s voices. Reserved seats are not the only answer to addressing the challenges our women face when they run for elections, but it is a quick, short-term measure that could ensure that never again do we have a Parliament with no women’s voices whatsoever. That can never be allowed to happen again.”

Hon. Charles Abel, Member for Alotau, and Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence, agreed. “As a first step, we need reserved seats for women immediately”, he said. “Prime Minister Marape’s consideration of law reforms to reserve seats for women encourages us, as does the work of the Integrity for Political Parties and Candidates Commission to push for political parties to nominate more women candidates in the upcoming elections.”

Reserved seats for women are not a new concept globally nor in PNG. In Bougainville, there are three seats reserved for women, and three seats reserved for ex-combatants. In NCD, there are two reserved women’s seats in the Motu Koita Assembly. Samoa also has a minimum quota of 5 women in every Parliament, and the French Territories of French Polynesia, Tahiti and Wallis & Fortuna also apply a quota for women.

At the conclusion of the meeting of the Coalition on Monday 26 April, all members reiterated their support for reserved seats for women in advance of the 2022 national elections. Already, a number of MPs have produced public service announcements calling for more women in parliament, which can be viewed on their website at https://www.unitedforequalitypng.com/videos.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical support to the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV as part of its gender programming, and EU-UN Spotlight Initiative and Women Make the Change projects. This support aims to address Gender-Based Violence and support longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea.

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Bougainville: UNDP supplies vehicles & ICT equipment in support of Peace Process

National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs, Caretaker Director Mr. Wemin Boi, with UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Dirk Wagener at handover ceremony. Photo: Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea.

Two vehicles and information technology equipment worth Kina 325,000 (USD 92,370) was handed over in Port Moresby to the National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs (NCOBA) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in support of the ongoing post-referendum process, as part of the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The vehicles and much needed equipment was supplied by UNDP in Papua New Guinea to ensure that the key national government institution for Bougainville affairs is fully equipped to perform its functions toward the post-referendum process and socio-economic support to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.


Protected Areas critical to PNG’s key biodiversity & supporting communities

How much funding is required to effectively manage and increase Papua New Guinea’s protected area system – and how to sustainably finance it?

The Sustainable Financing of Protected Areas project, implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, hosted a workshop for more than 45 stakeholders from national and provincial governments, NGO and private sectors to assess the costs of managing the country’s Protected Area system.

The project is developing the first national-level Protected Area Finance and Investment Plan for Papua New Guinea, with the aim to determine the current and future cost of managing PNG’s existing - as well as an expanded protected area system. The project also will identify and prioritise national financing mechanisms to reducing the financing gap.

Learn more about the UNDP Sustainable Financing of Protected Areas project.


Launch: New system to enhance access to justice for survivors of GBV

Marking the launch of the Information Management System for the Family and Sexual Violence Unit

The United Nations Development Programme is partnering with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) to launch a new information management system that will better protect women and girls across the country.

The launch of the new Information Management System will allow law enforcement authorities to better coordinate, and for the Family and Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU) to improve access to justice and referral pathways in aid of family and sexual violence survivors.

Superintendent Delilah Sandeka, the FSVU Director representing RPNGC at the launch – with UNDP Resident Representative for Papua New Guinea, Mr. Dirk Wagener – said the system will make certain all FSVU teams are well equipped with more information to better handle family and sexual violence cases.

“The aim is for women and children to feel safe at home and to be able to more readily access Police FSVU services when needed across the country. This will save more women and their children from repeat acts of violence,” she said.

Ms Sandeka is responsible for managing all 46 FSVU teams across the country, through which 115 staff work to provide law and justice services. The Information Management System will allow for more timely sharing of information between the Royal PNG Constabulary, Safehouses, Papua New Guinea’s Magisterial system and NGOs working to support women.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener said, “UNDP is proud to be supporting this important work. Gender-based violence has no place in Papua New Guinea. This information and file management system is another step towards ending GBV and to enable access to justice for survivors.

“Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.”

“We are reminded of the continuing struggle to achieve greater gender equality highlighting the importance of women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of gender-based violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

This support was made possible through the UNDP Rapid Response Facility, a global response facility which was setup to support countries facing the risk of increased incidents of gender-based violence during COVID-19 pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions. UNDP Papua New Guinea contributes USD 250,000 (PGK875,000) in 2020/21 to support efforts on gender-based violence prevention and related law and order challenges.


PNG team spotlights global staff survey

UNDP Papua New Guinea teams at Virtual Staff Retreat.

The United Nations Development Programme Country Office to Papua New Guinea joined together virtually for a two-day, COVID-safe staff retreat with the aim of strengthening the team and to discuss how the Country Office can target its programme to 'Build Forward Better.' The UNDP Papua New Guinea retreat linked all staff, via Zoom, on 27-28 April from all corners of the country, including those in Bougainville.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Dirk Wagener, commended the Staff Association and staff retreat committee for a successful event. “The retreat was well-planned and kept the team engaged. It generated constructive conversations around office priorities and how to build a stronger and better UNDP."

Let’s be someone’s hope for a better future - Hudson Tabara

UNDP Papua New Guinea Humanitarian Coordination Assistant, Hudson Tabara. Photo: Clive Hawigen /UNDP Papua New Guinea

Humanitarian Coordination Assistant, Hudson Tabara is part of a team of committed and dedicated professionals at the forefront of the country’s Covid-19 response.

Based mostly at the National Coordination Centre (NCC) in Port Moresby, he manages his days in supporting the UNDP Humanitarian Coordination Specialist, and the NCC travel team to ensure that UN personnel and partner organisations receive travel approvals and Covid-related advice in a timely manner. While joining regular NCC operational meetings, Mr. Tabara is also a focal point for providing updates on the latest Covid-19 measures to the UN agencies.

“It’s good to see the UN and its agencies, such as UNDP, supporting government partners in their efforts to address Covid-19. The pandemic has had a drastic impact on the country, and it takes a coordinated effort by the Government and its partners to stop the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

As a Humanitarian Coordination Assistant, he also provides essential monitoring, information sharing and coordination of humanitarian actions for the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, UN System and the National Disaster Management Team.

“It is a demanding job and a lesson that I take out from what I do is that the world is full of negativity. Let’s be someone’s hope for a better future. I am grateful to be employed in an organization that is striving to make the world a better place to live in,” said Mr Tabara.

Hudson was born in a missionary home to a mixed parentage of Northern Province and Malaita, Solomon Islands, but lived at Mt Hagen in Western Highlands Province.

“I believe growing up in a diverse cultural background was my first lesson on ‘how to be diplomatic’. I grew up helping my parents with community outreach projects and that has been my grounding. It has inspired my life’s choices so far and which has led me to working for the United Nations,” he said.


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