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