Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

141124 Crying Mari

Launch of ‘Crying Meri’ book and the EU-funded World Vision PNG Leadership against Gender-based Violence project

Parliament House, Port Moresby

Monday 24 November 2014

Remarks by HE Ms Deborah Stokes
Australia’s High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea

It is a privilege to be here, at the launch of two important contributions to gender equality; World Vision’s innovative project, PNG Leadership against Gender-based Violence, and the powerful photographic exhibition.

Violence against women and girls is a crime that is often hidden away, and unreported.

But here we have evidence that is clear and compelling. The photos are confronting.

They make it hard to ignore the harsh realities. Hopefully it also spurs action and change.

Australia is pleased to have contributed towards the publication of the photographs.

These photos and today’s event remind us that every child, woman and man has the right to live safely and free from all forms of violence.

Australia is committed to helping Papua New Guinea reduce and prevent violence against women and girls, and achieve gender equality.
For example, we are pleased to have supported the establishment of FSV units at 14 police stations around the country.

In Lae, Australia is funding the Case Management Centre to work alongside the ANGAU Hospital’s Family Support Centre. The Centre provides victim support and access to services.

We support PNG Rugby League to promote the message that ‘strong men respect women’.

Today’s event is a fitting contribution to PNG’s 20 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.

It is inspiring to see the array of campaign events taking place throughout Papua New Guinea, demonstrating wide and growing community support.

While this campaign reminds us of all that is yet to be done to eliminate violence, it also celebrates the progress made in gender equality and women’s rights.

The Family Protection Bill is an achievement.

The Gender Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) policy being implemented in the public service is a very positive step forward.

We are also seeing more girls in school than ever before as a result of the tuition fee-free policy of the Government.

Educating girls is the single most valuable investment any country can make. It leads to so many other benefits.

There is much more to be done to encourage girls to stay at school longer and to give both girls and boys a quality education - but a good start has been made.

We need to work on many fronts to improve the circumstances of women and girls in PNG.

Especially, we need men and women to speak out against violence against women. This is why World Vision and the EU are to be congratulated on their new project, PNG Leadership against Gender-based Violence.

We share wholeheartedly the hope it will make a contribution to preventing and reducing violence against women and girls in Papua New Guinea.

Once again I am honoured to be part of today’s launch and I thank you for the opportunity to speak today.