International Women’s Day celebrations in Papua New Guinea
Compiled by Aidah Nanyonjo
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.
“We have been celebrating other days, but not Women’s Day. I am happy to be part of this year’s celebrations,” said Eris Martin, a mother of eight, and a vendor in the Mt. Hagen main market in the Western Highlands for more than 30 years. The event was organised by Hagen Market Women Vendors’ Association with support from UN Women’s programme on market, economic, recovery, and inclusiveness, funded by the Australian government.
In Port Moresby, more than 700 local women gathered at Ela Beach for the main celebrations. The colourful event comprised of a street march, market stalls and exhibitions, a drama performance and speeches, a panel discussion, and a photo exhibition on Women and Climate Change in PNG. The event was officiated by Powes Parkop, governor of the National Capital District, Joanne Loundes, Australian deputy high commissioner, and Masato Koinuma chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
UN Women Deputy Country Representative Caroline Nyamayemombe said that Papua New Guinea was faced with multiple climate-related crises such as high temperatures and rising sea levels, which have disrupted livelihoods, caused food and water shortages, and made health and education more inaccessible, with hidden effects on sexual and reproductive health.
She called on stakeholders and decision-makers to harness the contribution of women, adding that they are essential, effective leaders and change-makers, and must be included in the design and implementation of climate action.
She also called on the public to vote for more women in the coming elections at all levels of government to address some of the challenges faced by women in Papua New Guinea. “Let us bring them to parliament, to cabinet, to provincial executive councils, and to local-level government,” she said.
Australian Deputy High Commissioner Joanne Loundes, observed the need to support investments that bring women together to respond to disasters and climate changes.
“Women are at the forefront of dealing with the challenges every single day. They must be part of the solution,” she said.
Alfred Rungol from the Climate Change and Development Authority urged the public not to look at women as victims of climate change but as agents for providing solutions to climate-change effects. He added that women are key in building communities, resilience, and response to climate-related disasters.
“We salute all women who continue to lead the fights against climate change by providing expertise in creating sustainable and resilient development in PNG across sectors.
Chief Representative Masato Koinuma pledged JICA’s commitment to support Gender Equality and women empowerment in Papua New Guinea.
In the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, International Women’s Day was celebrated with the honouring of women who contributed to restoration of peace in the area, and to gender equality and human-rights activists. At the event, different speakers emphasized the need to support and empower each other as women during the struggle for gender equality.
In Morobe Province, women vendors under the Lae Market Vendors and Growers Association celebrated International Women’s Day for the first time with an awareness programme on gender equality. UN Women has been working with these vendors under the Australian government-funded programme on market, economic, recovery, and inclusiveness. Other celebrations were held in Wewak and Daru.