UN Women supports the launch of landmark policies for Bougainville in Papua New Guinea


Photo: UN Women/Fidelis Golu
From left to right: Hon Francesca Semoso, National Member for North Bougainville; Ms. Adekemi Ndieli, UN Women Head of Office, a.i; Hon. Ishmael Toroama, President of the ABG Government; Hon. Morris Opetti, ABG Minister for Community Development and Hon. Theresa Kaetavara, Deputy Speaker for ABG Parliament. Photo: UN Women/Fidelis Golu

Bougainville, Papua New Guinea — The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in Papua New Guinea has reached an important milestone with the launch of two transformative policies, the Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment, Peace, and Security Policy 2023-2027 and the Civil Society Partnership Policy 2023-2027.

Supported by UN Women, the launch event held in Buka on 26 June 2024 was graced by distinguished guests and high-profile individuals, including ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama; Minister for Community Development Hon. Morris Opetti; Acting Speaker of ABG Parliament- Deputy Speaker Theresa Kaetavara; National Member for North Bougainville Hon. Francesca Semoso; UN Women Head of Office a.i., Papua New Guinea, Ms. Adekemi Ndieli, and Second Secretary Political, Australian High Commission, among many other esteemed ministers and dignitaries.

The Gender Equality, Women Empowerment, Peace, and Security Policy is a testament to ABG’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment. It aims to dismantle the barriers that have historically hindered women’s full participation in society.

UN Women provided technical support for the review and development of the Gender Equality Policy, ensuring the policy reflects international best practices and standards for gender mainstreaming. This policy envisions a future where every woman and girl lives free from violence, pursues education, secures employment and participates fully in Bougainville’s political, economic and social life.

Among its content, the policy commits the ABG to establishing an Office of Gender Equality that will be situated in the Office of the Chief Secretary. “This change moves the responsibility for driving the gender equality agenda from the Department of Community Development to the highest offices of the government, demonstrating our commitment to improving the rights of Bougainvillean women and girls as a priority,” President Toroama states in the policy’s foreword.

In the same vein, the Civil Society Partnership Policy underscores the importance of collaboration with civil society organizations, acknowledging their pivotal role in advocating for social justice, human rights, and community development.

During the launch, ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama stated: “As Bougainville prepares for independence, all faculties must stand ready to complement the government’s political will.” He expressed his pride in launching the Bougainville Gender Equality, Women Empowerment, Peace, and Security Policy, which he highlighted would address disparities in access to education and employment opportunities, ensuring that both women and men can fully participate in and benefit from society.

Re-echoing his perspectives, Ms. Ndieli emphasized that the true measure of success lies not in the policies themselves, but in their implementation and their ability to drive tangible improvements in people’s lives. She urged everyone to continue championing equality, empowering women, and girls, and fostering a culture of peace and security.

Photo: UN Women/Fidelis Golu
(from left) Ms. Adekemi Ndieli, UN Women Head of Office holding a copy of one of the policies, and Hon. Morris Opetti, Minister for Community Development. Photo: UN Women/Fidelis Golu

Hon. Francesca Semoso, National Member of the PNG Parliament representing North Bougainville, also expressed her pride in the launch of the policy, highlighting the crucial link between gender equality, women empowerment, and sustainable peace. She emphasized that the policy would enable women to be better included in peacebuilding and decision-making processes at all levels, which are vital for achieving equality, development, and lasting peace and security in Bougainville.

ABG Minister for Community Development, Hon. Morris Opetti, reminded everyone that these policies are more than mere words on paper; they rather reflect the shared values and aspirations of the people of Bougainville. He called upon everyone to join hands and play their part in turning these policies into action, emphasizing that everyone’s contribution is vital in realizing a more equitable, inclusive, and peaceful Bougainville.

Ms. Adekemi Ndieli, UN Women Head of Office delivering her speech during the launch of the Gender and Civil Society Partnership Policy in Buka. Photo: UN Women/Fidelis Golu

The speakers expressed their gratitude to all stakeholders, community leaders, and organizations involved in the development of these policies. UN Women provided technical support in reviewing and developing the policies for ABG in collaboration with the ABG Department for Community Development, with funding from the Australian Government.