Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

131030 - Speech - HOM at CFC Breakfast

30 October 2013

  Address by Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG

HE Ms Deborah Stokes

Coalition for Change breakfast
The Gender Agenda – Gaining momentum


Lady Winifred
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my privilege to be with you this morning and to have this opportunity to talk about gender equality – an important issue, not just for PNG and Australia, but globally.

It is also an honour to speak in the same series as Edwina Kotoisuva, Family and Sexual Violence Adviser with the PNG Law and Justice Sector Program supported by Australia, who addressed the last Coalition for Change breakfast and who has worked extensively in the Pacific in addressing violence against women.

I was struck by Edwina’s insights into the effects on the workplace of domestic violence and of controlling behavior.
This prompted me to ask my human resources staff in the High Commission to look at what support and awareness programs we could put in place to help staff deal with these issues.

We all need to think about how we can make a difference in our own communities and work-places.

One Australian who has sought to make a big difference to the workplace culture of his organization is Australia’s Chief of Army, General David Morrison.

I had the privilege of hearing Lt General Morrison speak earlier this month at a function we hosted together with the Coalition for Change.
General Morrison has achieved a profile in Australia after he sent a very strong message to all Australian Army personnel that unacceptable behaviour towards women in the Army and the broader defence community would not be tolerated, and if they didn’t agree then the army was not the place for them.

General Morrison stated very clearly that the standards you walk past are the standards you accept.

His filmed remarks have been viewed widely on the internet. If you haven’t seen the video I encourage you to do so. General Morrison is an example of the difference that men can make when they lead from the front, and work with women, to overcome bias towards women.

General Morrison recognized there was fundamental problem in the culture of the army and this was much more than just the poor behaviour of a few “bad apples”. General Morrison recognized that having women in the workplace improves capability and leads to better performance, and that to bring about real change there needed to be a change in culture.

For the Gender Agenda to keep its momentum and to bring about positive change men must be engaged. We need both men and women to be agents of change.

This is a global challenge and not one just faced by PNG. This is clear when you look at some of the international data for women in leadership positions.

Firstly in Parliament:
- Scandinavian countries have more than 40 per cent female representation in their parliaments.
- in New Zealand it’s 33 per cent;
- in Australia 29 per cent;
- Canada, 28 per cent;
- Philippines, 27 percent
- United Kingdom, 23 per cent;
- United States and Indonesia, 19 per cent;
- Thailand, 16 percent
- Malaysia, 14 percent
- Japan, 11 per cent.

Rwanda is top of the list for female representation in parliament. Of the 80 seats in its lower house, 50 are held by women. Rwanda’s constitution reserves 24 seats for women, but this still means an additional 26 women were elected to parliament over men.

In the Pacific women only hold approximately 15 per cent of parliamentary positions – these rates are among the lowest in the world.
In PNG there are only 3 female members of Parliament out of 111 – that is 2.7 percent.

Our research shows that only the following countries have worse participation rates:
Solomon Islands at 2%
Oman at 1.2%
Yemen at 0.3%
FSM, Palau, Qatar and Vanuatu are at zero percent.

The election of Governor Akeke-Soso, Loujaya Toni Kouza and Delilah Gore – only the fifth, sixth and seventh women elected since the first PNG elections in 1977 – were heroic achievements. But it’s not nearly enough. And no-one in PNG should be satisfied with that result.

Lets now look at women’s participation in the workforce – international experience is that a high figure is good for productivity and helping to expand GDP.

In Australia’s Public Service, 57 per cent are women. However, the majority of women are employed in the lower levels, and the proportion of women in senior executive positions,is half that of men.

Of PNG’s 92,000 public service, females only account for 37.4 per cent [34,466]. However, women only occupy 22 per cent of the management positions and only about 5 per cent at the senior executive leadership level.

New Zealand has a better story to tell with 42 per cent of the senior public service leaders women, while in the United Kingdom it is 35 per cent.
Let’s now look at women in ambassadorial roles.

Of Australia’s overseas missions, 27 percent are headed by women; for New Zealand its 21 percent; in the United Kingdom its 19 per cent.
Australia still has some way to go until we have gender equity in the upper echelons of the private sector:
- there are only seven female CEOs in the ASX 200; and
- there are only six female chairs in the ASX 200 and 48 ASX200 companies still do not have a woman on their boards.

Australia has many challenges in promoting gender equality and we are very fortunate to have a dedicated office – the Sex Discrimination Commissioner who is part of our Human Rights Commission.

Ms Elizabeth Broderick has played a central role in putting under the spotlight the performance of Australian companies and in promoting a network of male champions.

I hope that we can arrange a visit by Ms Broderick to PNG in the year ahead.

Support for gender equality in PNG through Australia’s aid program

Now I would like to say a few words about our support for gender equality in PNG through Australia’s aid program.

Australia’s aid program in PNG is guided by a country specific gender strategy titled Equality matters that has four goals:

  • Advancing equal access to health and education services
  • Increasing women’s voice in decision-making;
  • Empowering women economically; and
  • Ending Violence against women and girls.

Our progress in achieving these results is reviewed annually and reflected in annual program performance reports.

I will mention today just a sample of the activities we are supporting.

Australia is supporting the Department of Personnel Management to establish and train a network of male advocates to act as role models and change advocates in the public sector and in their communities.

In August, 27 men from various PNG government departments participated in male advocacy training. And at the end they committed through a signed statement to help eliminate violence against women. Secretary of the Department of Personnel Management, Mr John Kali, joined them by becoming the 28th male advocate from the Public Service.

Australia is supporting PNG rugby league players to send the message ‘Strong men respect women’. We hope that Rugby league players can be a positive role model for men and boys.

Australia is supporting women in politics. We were pleased that two of the three women elected to PNG’s parliament benefitted from Australian-government funding for female candidates run by the Australian Centre for Democratic Institutions and the PNG Department for Community Development for the 2012 general election. Australia provided similar support for the local-elections in June.

Internationally, investing in the education of girls has been shown to deliver immense economic and social benefits. In my view, it is the single most important activity that any country can support.

The Australian aid program provides school subsidies in support of the Government of PNG’s efforts to provide tuition fee free basic education.

We have yet to see the data that would allow us to assess whether this is translating into improved education for girls, but we are hopeful.

In 2013, the Australian Government will select and mobilise more than 660 Papua New Guineans to commence study in 2014 including

  • up to 160 awardees to undertake long term study in Australia
  • up to 450 awardees to study in PNG. This includes - midwifery (104), nursing (150), community health workers (176) and secondary education teaching (20).
  • up to 60 awardees to undertake short course awards delivered in Australia.

More than 50 percent of these trainees will be women.

Turning to the law and justice sector, Australia has supported the establishment of family and sexual violence units in police stations to strengthen police and prosecutor support to victims of sexual violence.

There are currently 11 FSVUs established in Port Moresby (Badili, Waigani and Boroko) Popondetta, Lae, Vanimo, Kokopo, Mt.Hagen, Goroka, Buka and Alotau.

Between 2010 and 2012, these Units provided services and support to over 19,000 survivors of family and sexual violence.

In the Office of the Public Prosecutor, Australia has supported the establishment of the Family and Sexual Offences Unit (FASOU) to more effectively address family and sexual violence prosecutions and provide better support for FSV survivors through the court process.

The Australian aid program is also supporting better access for women to the legal process through village courts, more female public lawyers and training in sexual assault law for public prosecutors, criminal investigators, the Ombudsman Commission and police.

PNG has made real progress in the law and justice sector, most notably:
a significant increase in the number of new women village court magistrates recruited and trained across the country, up from only 10 in 2004 to now over 900

  •  3 female National Court judges (out of 27 judges)
  •  a female chief magistrate
  •  22 female District Court Magistrates and a Deputy District Court Magistrate
  •  female ombudsperson
  •  female Assistant Commissioner at Correctional Services; and
  •  a female Assistant Commissioner in the RPNGC.

We also congratulate PNG on its efforts to address violence against women with the Family Protection Bill.

One of the more confronting aspects of violence against women in PNG is the prevalence of sorcery-related violence. While this violence affects men as well as women, it is particularly common against women.

The Australian government is supporting the PNG government to host a Sorcery and Witchcraft-related violence conference in Goroka in late November. The repeal of the Sorcery Act is a welcome step in addressing this issue. Under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative, Australia will spend approximately $58 million over 10 years on a range of activities including:

  • expanding the UN Safe Cities program in three markets in Port Moresby; and
  •  a prevalence study, implemented by the United Nations Development Program, to establish the level and nature of violence against women in PNG. This will be the first systematic survey of family and sexual violence in the country since the early 1980s.

The PNG Business Coalition for Women, announced by former Prime Minister, Julia Gilliard, will bring together businesses across PNG to promote best practices in two key areas:

- developing more women for leadership roles;

- and promoting safe and healthy work places to help reduce gender based violence.

Dame Winifred has been nominated as the Patron of the PNG Business Coalition for Women.

In conclusion, all countries in the world are on a journey to promote gender equality. That journey differs from country to country.

 As a close friend and partner of PNG, Australia is committed to helping PNG create the conditions that allow women and girls to have opportunities that are at least equal to those for men and boys in PNG.

Lastly I wish to commend the Coalition for Change on your courage and your determination in promoting equality for women and girls in PNG. Your work is truly important for the future of PNG.

Thank you.