Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

160303 Address by Australia's Deputy High Commissioner Ms Bronte Moules at the PNG Women's Forum

                                       Papua New Guinea Women’s Forum

                                                Address by Ms Bronte Moules

               Australia's Deputy High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea

                                                Crowne Plaza, Port Moresby

                                                                    3 March 2016



  • U.S Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray and the U.S Embassy
  • Department of Community Development
  • Tribal Foundation

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a pleasure to be with you this morning.

I would like to acknowledge the terrific work of the US Embassy and PNG’s Department of Community Development, Youth and Religion in hosting this important Forum.

I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to the many attendees who travelled from afar to be here this week.  Your participation is key to the Forum.

This Forum is a great event that brings people together from all over the country and to share information and ideas about what we’re doing and can do to promote gender equality and economic opportunities for women.

It’s timely of course as we prepare for International Women’s Day on 8 March – a great opportunity for us to celebrate and promote the economic, political and social investment of women all over the region and globally.

I’m very happy to be able to say a few words this morning on the topic of entrepreneurship and economic development.

I’m pleased because promoting entrepreneurship and economic development is at the core of much of Australia’s engagement here in PNG.  And gender equality and women’s empowerment is a fundamental element of everything we do here.

As this Forum has highlighted, gender equality is central to economic and human development and to supporting women’s rights, and violence against women prevents women from achieving social and economic equality and advancement

Promoting gender equality and the empowerment of girls has particular resonance in the Indo-Pacific region.

For Australia’s part, one of the main ways we’re trying to support the region is through our Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program.

This is a AUD320 million program (2012-2022) which is working to enable women and men across 14 Pacific nations to improve the political, social and economic opportunities for women.

The program aims to bring positive change for women by influencing policies and laws, increasing access to services, and changing attitudes and beliefs about women’s and men’s roles.

Of the AUD320 million I mentioned, AUD58 million is earmarked for PNG. In partnership with the PNG Government and the Department of Community Development, we agreed on the Pacific Women second country plan in 2015.

To manage this fund and ensure we achieve our objectives, we’ve established a Pacific Women Support Unit in Port Moresby, and we’re hopeful this program will continue to have good, practical impact.

As I mentioned earlier, economic empowerment for women is at the heart of much of Australia’s engagement here in PNG.

I’d like to provide a few examples of our engagement in this area, which highlight also some of the extraordinary work of Papua New Guinea women and community groups determined to create and seize opportunities for economic empowerment.

We’ve been proud to provide funding, over the period 2013 to 2018, to the Business Coalition for Women ($A3.4 million), to help the impressive businesses involved develop policies on domestic violence and anti-harassment; run women’s leadership and mentoring courses; and increase demand for women owned businesses in the supply chains business members.

We’re funding the ‘Inclusive Development in Bougainville’ project ($A3.152m over 3 years) for 40 women’s groups to run local programs and establish to improve village life and help stabilise the region.

Through a partnership with CARE and the PNG Coffee Industry Corporation (A$4.5m over 6 years), five coffee industry partners are now providing technical extension services to women farmers and 1,523 people (369 women) have been trained on gender equity and diversity and family business management to improve outcomes for women farmers.

We’ve been pleased to provide funding to the UN Women Safe Cities Program ($A6.7m over 5 years) to improve the infrastructure and safety for women in three Port Moresby produce markets so they can trade without fear of sexual and other physical violence.

We’re supporting the Bilum Export and Promotion program, which is helping women to pool resources into locally based cooperatives, which will add the supply of their billum products to the international market place. The aim is for local bilum production to meet the quality and standards of high-end international markets such as Japan and Hong Kong. Catering for clientele who are willing to pay more for such unique pieces will enable women here to fetch higher prices for their products.

This project has already established women’s cooperatives in sites such as Goroka, Mount Hagen and Port Moresby. Training has been provided on costing inputs and business literacy skills which will ultimately allow these rural women to be fairly compensated for their traditional bilum weaving.

We’re also trying wherever possible to support the entrepreneurial endeavours of women, such as the female finalists participating in the Kumul Game Changers initiative.

The aim of the UNDP coordinated Kumul Game Changers initiative is to work with budding entrepreneurs, investors and inclusive businesses to unleash creative private sector-led solutions to PNG’s development challenges. This program has been well received by women, who represented about 40% of the interest in the pilot program and made up over 50% of the finalists at the end of the program.

In all of these examples, the common thread is the involvement of extraordinary women seeking to move into mainstream economic activity and thereby contribute more to their communities and society. 

The more we can do to support this, and the more we can enable these women, the more they will inspire and enable others.  Through doing so, more and more people will come realise that this is not only the right thing to do from the point of view of equality and human rights, but it also simply makes good economic sense.  This is a powerful combination.

Thank you