About UN Women PNG

Brief Background

  • Population: 6.1 million (EST. 2005)
  • Papua New Guinea joined the United Nations on 10 October 1975.
  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was ratified in 1991.
  • Proportion of seats held by women in parliament: 0.9 per cent
  • According to 2004 World Bank statistics, women are 42 per cent of the labour force.
  • Violence against women is common throughout Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) ranks very low in all global indicators in advancing gender equality and elimination of violence against women. As a result, PNG is a priority country in UN Women's Strategic Plan. UN Women is signatory to the UN Country Programme for PNG (2008-2012). UN Women is consolidating and expanding its work and programmes in PNG, an advanced UN 'Delivering as One' self-starter country. UN agencies in PNG are committed to working together – and UN Women takes the lead in advancing the gender equality agenda in the country.

The UN in PNG works together through various inter-agency coordination mechanisms such as the UN Task Teams on HIV&AIDS, Peace Building in Bougainville, Child Protection and Human Rights and MDGs, and the Donor Partners Forum on Gender. UN Women provides support through its thematic advisors and specialists in its sub-regional office in Suva, Fiji.

UN Women has an important role to play in PNG because gender issues are gaining momentum and are becoming important aspects of the country’s changing political and national development priorities. UN Women is currently extensively involved in supporting government lobby and CSO advocacy for the creation of 22 reserved seats for women candidates at the National Parliament. UN Women is also active in mobilizing political action and public awareness to end the extreme, often fatal, forms of gender-based violence that exist in PNG.

Economic Empowerment

UN Women’s work in enhancing women’s economic empowerment in PNG focuses on the empowerment of women in the expanding informal economy. UN Women’s programmes involve sensitization of local authorities to the gender dimensions of poverty and support the organization of women informal traders to enter into effective dialogue with local governments to influence by-laws, policies and budgets. UN Women’s work in economic security is based on the ‘Legal Empowerment of the Poor’ framework that promotes access of citizens to justice and the rule of law, property rights, labour rights and rights to livelihood and entrepreneurship.

Through the Gender Responsive Budgeting Project, UN Women supports the capacity building of government institutions to integrate a gender perspective into the national and provincial budgets in order to ensure adequate resource allocation towards local community needs, and to eliminate social and gender inequalities. The project also focuses on building the advocacy capacity of civil society organizations to effectively engage in and influence the national budgeting process.

Ending Violence Against Women

PNG is experiencing severe social impacts from gender-based violence and HIV&AIDS. Through the Ending Violence Against Women and HIV&AIDS Programme, UN Women supports the Government of PNG, civil society and practitioners to understand the linkages between violence against women and the spread of HIV&AIDS and formulate effective policy responses in line with the MDGs and CEDAW. Working with organizations of HIV-positive women UN Women supports leadership development and capacity building in dialogue and negotiation skills to influence relevant policies, laws and resource allocations.

In order to increase access to urgently-needed financial resources and training, UN Women has established a Pacific Regional Fund to support organizations and actions to end violence against women in the areas of service provision, legal reform and advocacy.

Leadership and Participation

Papua New Guinea has one the lowest levels of women’s representation in parliament and local governments. Cultural and systemic obstacles prevent women from participating in political life and holding public office.

Given the significant challenges of women’s political participation in PNG, UN Women in the Pacific established the Gender Equality in Political Governance Programme (GEPG) as a major focus within its regional democratic governance programme. In partnership with other UN agencies and development partners, UN Women has entered into dialogue with the Government of PNG, members of parliament and other key stakeholders to discuss the introduction of temporary special measures to increase women’s political representation and political party endorsement at both local and national level. GEPG also supports efforts to mainstream a gender perspective into national and local government structures and operations and promotes women’s greater involvement in national and local policy formulation, legislative reviews and budgeting.

In 2010, GEPG supported the technical working group headed by the Minister for Community Development, Dame Carol Kidu, and assisted the Government of PNG and national NGOs to develop a communications strategy and advocacy campaign for the Reserved Seats Bill. The bill to reserve 22 seats (One seat per province) was mentioned in parliament in May 2010 to be debated when parliament reconvenes.

GEPG also supports efforts to mainstream a gender perspective into national and local government structures and operations and promotes women’s greater involvement in national and local policy formulation, legislative reviews, change and budgeting. Political parties and NGOs in PNG have received training to increase knowledge and build advocacy skills to advance gender equality in political governance. GEPG also provides technical assistance to NGOs and parties that support women to stand for elections and effectively carry out the roles and responsibilities of political office.