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Vilashini Weerasinghe is Assistant Director of the Sri Lanka Planning Service, a Government institution in Badulla, capital of Uva Province. She has been working to address issues faced by plantation workers for the last 17 years. In October 2021, Weerasinghe attended a series of “multi-party dialogues” that UN Women hosted as part of its project, funded by the Government of Japan, on implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka.
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Ishan Priyaranga, 27, is Minister of Public Transport (Kalutara District) in the Youth Parliament of Sri Lanka. In October 2021, Priyaranga attended a series of “multi-party dialogues” that UN Women hosted as part of its project, funded by the Government of Japan, on implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka.
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Chandrawathi Dissanayaka, based in Siyambalanduwa, in Uva Province of Sri Lanka, is the first and only woman elected as president of a Pradeshiya Sabha [local authority] in the country. In October 2021, Dissanayaka attended a series of “multi-party dialogues” that UN Women hosted as part of its project, funded by the Government of Japan, on Implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka.
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Benedicta Golu, 37, is teaching young women and children in Bougainville island in Papua New Guinea not only how to play soccer but also how to help keep peace in their communities. Golu, a former midfielder for the Bougainville team and now a certified coach, had attended a training UN Women organized in October 2021 on how to promote peacebuilding, human rights and gender rights.
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With funding from the Government of Australia, UN Women has trained a group of 14 journalists in Papua New Guinea on how to help promote gender equality and women in leadership, and prevent violence against women and girls during elections. Violence typically flares around elections in Papua New Guinea. Votes are currently being counted from this month’s general election.
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Helen Henao, a vendor at Alotau market in south-eastern Papua New Guinea, attended a financial literacy training given by UN Women, and she sees good days ahead. “The training opened our eyes to see opportunities for our businesses to grow,” she said. “With these skills, I see myself as a powerful businesswoman in the next five years.”
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About 100 people with disabilities from all provinces of Papua New Guinea gathered in Port Moresby to review the National Disability Policy (2015-2025), and some of them talked about the problems they still faced in their daily lives. The National Capital District Diff-Abilities Advocacy Agency, a non-government organization, organized the 27 June-1 July event with support and funding from UN Women and the Government of Australia.
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“We … have a host of cultural barriers that prevent women from seeking help. For example, victims of violence are often threatened not to go to court and are subject to extreme physical and psychological abuse. Women also find legal battles as a ‘hassle’ to their daily lives, because they have to juggle multiple responsibilities at home and work.
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Based on international standards, many policies have been put forward to ensure the safety of women and to address inequalities. However, implementation is lacking. If a woman goes to the police station to make a complaint, the system is such that they don’t often feel safe and protected.
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To help fix the acute gender disparity in national political leadership in Papua New Guinea, UN Women is supporting training of a second group of female local politicians so they can rise up in the ranks. Politicians of district and provincial governments are being trained at the Political Academy for Women, which UN Women started last December in partnership with the Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance. The Governments of Australia and New Zealand fund the project.
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When the lockdown came, Periwanga, 39, had been doing tailoring and selling traditional meri blouses at the market for only a year after leaving her previous job as a teacher. “This was a brief period, but it really affected us,” she recalled. “Police was ever on standby to stop people from accessing the market. Customers were only allowed to buy from big shops.”
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UN Women developed COVID-19 guidelines for the safe houses and gave training on the guidelines to 117 workers providing services to survivors staying there. To ensure the availability of quality services, UN Women supplied 23 safe houses in 16 provinces with food vouchers, reusable face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and information technology equipment such as laptops and internet dongles. Rose Martins, 37, married for nine years and with three children, sought refuge at Salvation Army House of Hope in Port Moresby last August after a quarrel with her husband.
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[Press release] During her official visit to Sri Lanka recently, the Officer-in-Charge for UN Women Asia and the Pacific met with key partners to reaffirm UN Women’s commitment to ensure that women and girls are not left behind amidst recovery from the ongoing economic crisis.
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Using her skills in palm-weaving, Lucia, 42 sells a variety of custom-made products to provide an additional income to her family. “For us, even a small income goes a long way”, she says. Lucia has been specializing in palm-weaving since 2014. However, from the beginning of her craft-making career, she has had to face persistent challenges to prove her capabilities in what she calls a ’man’s world.” The trainings and support provided to Lucia and Kamalawathi are part of a project titled Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka, which UN Women implements with the State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Pre-Schools and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and Education Services.
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Addressing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence is an integral aspect of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. 46-year-old L.D. W Sanjeewani is a Chief Inspector of Police, serving in the Polonnaruwa Police Division in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. She has over 25 years of experience helping survivors of violence.
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[Press Release] In Sri Lanka, women are denied equal access to the jobs market not just because of family or social factors, but also by employers. This is the focus of a report launched by UN Women today, titled Gender Disparities and Labour Market Challenges: The Demand for Women Workers in Sri Lanka. This report is amongst the first in the country to illustrate the largely unexplored factors on the part of employers and firms that prevent women from entering the paid workforce.
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On March 8, Papua New Guinea joined the rest of the world to mark International Women’s Day under the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable future tomorrow.” With support from UN Women and its donors, several activities were organized across the country.
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Hundreds of women and men joined a march on the streets of Port Moresby to kickstart celebrations to mark International Women’s Day. The "Walk for life' event was officiated by Governor Powes Parkop and attended by country representatives and staff from the United Nations in Papua New Guinea. Other dignitaries were from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Australian High Commission.
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More than 100 civil society and human rights activists and members of faith-based organizations discussed with government and development partners this and other challenges of efforts to promote gender equality and human rights in Papua New Guinea. UN Women and the Consultative Implementation & Monitoring Council, a government agency, organized the 10 December forum with funding from the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls. The main event was held at APEC Haus in Port Moresby, and satellite events in Lae, Goroka, Mount Hagen and Kokopo cities.
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Barbara Tanne is the president of Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF) in Bougainville island in eastern Papua New Guinea. The federation is implementing a UN Women project to build the leadership skills of young women. In a late 2019 referendum, the people of Bougainville voted overwhelmingly for independence. [Q] How are gender stereotypes affecting young women in taking leadership positions in PNG? [A] People have held strong negative views about women’s leadership, that “women cannot be leaders, women can’t be the fore runners.”