A woman uses soccer training to promote peace in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea


Author: Aidah Nanyonjo

Benedicta with a team of young women. Photo: Courtesy of Benedicta Golu
Benedicta with a team of young women. Photo: Courtesy of Benedicta Golu

Bougainville, Papua New Guinea — 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.

“I realized soccer gatherings were a great platform for me to preach about peace,” she said. “If you call them for a meeting, they do not turn up, but when you call them for soccer, they attend in big numbers. I will continue to use soccer platforms to talk about peacebuilding in Bougainville.”

Benedicta Golu. Photo: UN Women/Aidah Nanyonjo
Benedicta Golu. Photo: UN Women/Aidah Nanyonjo

As women gather for the soccer training sessions each morning and afternoon, Golu uses that opportunity to talk with them about ending violence in their homes and communities. She said it has made a difference.

“We now have some peace,” Golu said. “It is rare to see young women and girls roaming around, fighting, drinking alcohol, and doing nasty things that would lead to insecurity. They are either concentrating on soccer or at home doing productive work.”

She added that the skills she got from the UN Women training have helped her to contribute to peace in families including her own.

“In case of a domestic violence issue, I am called to step in and help the couple to reconcile,” she said. “Young women with challenges in their homes always consult me.”

“Peace returned to my home after attending these trainings,” she added. “The relationship with my husband and son stabilized. We had lots of misunderstandings. I never listened to him. Now I know how to cope up with them. We are happy. Thank you, UN Women.”

Since 2018, UN Women has been implementing the Sustaining Peace in Bougainville project funded by the Peacebuilding Fund of the United Nations. UN Women has been supporting peacebuilding activities by women to prepare communities for an independent Bougainville and has helped to build the capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government to empower and engage women.