The Australian Government through Pacific Women has committed $104.65 million over 10 years, to 2022, to initiatives that support women’s empowerment in Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
In its eighth year, the Pacific Women in Papua New Guinea Performance Report 2019–2020 provides an aggregate assessment highlighting how the program is on track to achieve almost all of its long-term outcomes.
The report draws on implementing partners reports and evaluations and details the program’s contribution to the Papua New Guinea Medium Term Development Plan III and the Papua New Guinea National Gender Based Violence Strategy. Detailed summaries of ongoing and recently completed activities are also included.
Recent evaluations clearly demonstrate that the family-based approaches to farming support more equitable workloads, improved communication within families, and families setting financial goals. This has resulted in increased incomes and improved family wellbeing. Since July 2019, 2,300 women have accessed financial information and services to increase their financial and business skills literacy and to improve their family budgeting, savings and access to credit. Through formal banking institutions in the Western Highlands and nine community village savings and loans associations supported by CARE with coffee growing communities, women and their families have saved more than PGK45,000 which they are using to expand small businesses. Almost 200 women have expanded their businesses through the training and networks provided by the Women’s Business Resource Centre in Port Moresby.
Transformative changes are taking place within families, communities and organisations to reduce the acceptance of violence against women. Though the incidence of family and sexual violence remains high in Papua New Guinea, Pacific Women investments have increased families’ and communities’ understanding of the causes and consequences of violence against women. A diverse range of actors are speaking out against and acting to prevent violence against women and children in communities. This includes young men through rugby clubs, local community leaders introducing and implementing community by-laws to protect women, and men and women in target Western Highlands communities reporting a reduction in the incidence of physical violence and marital rape.
Evidence shows the Pacific Women program has greatly increased resources and played a critical role in developing a diverse portfolio of activities that strengthen violence prevention and response. Since July 2019, more than 980 women and girls facing violence have accessed support services, including counselling, case management, health or justice services, and emergency repatriation and reintegration support in the case of extreme violence. Organisations including Femili PNG, the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation, Kafe Urban Settlers Women’s Association, FHI 360, Oxfam, Equal Playing Field and Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee continue to provide training and technical support to expand and improve the quality of services supporting survivors of family and sexual violence as well as working with communities and organisations to prevent violence in the first place.
There is strong evidence the private sector is increasingly adopting policies to enable women’s economic empowerment and to improve workplaces to make them safer for women. Thirteen companies are providing support to employees who are facing family and sexual violence by subscribing to the public-private Bel isi PNG initiative. With support from the Business Coalition for Women, more companies are implementing policies to increase workplace safety, including from sexual harassment.
There is evidence that Pacific Women investments have resulted in more women gaining skills and confidence to take up leadership roles. Since July 2019, 162 women have taken on leadership roles at the community level, as market vendors or within their companies. The Government of Papua New Guinea’s Informal Economy Strategy includes the model of inclusive governance of public markets tested through the Safe City project in Port Moresby, implemented by UN Women. The model enables women vendors to engage with local administrations on the management and organisation of public markets. It is being implemented in other local markets in East Sepik and Milne Bay provinces. The private sector is supporting more leadership pathways for women through the Business Coalition for Women’s new Senior Executive Women Program and new PNG Directors course. Alumnae and managers on the ever popular Certificate IV in Leadership and Management continue to report graduates have increased confidence, and the majority have taken on increased responsibilities at work, been promoted or received a pay rise.
There is evidence that good practices and successful approaches trialled through Pacific Women are being taken up by the Government of Papua New Guinea as well as by other development partners. Pacific Women continues to prioritise investing in research, robust evaluations and monitoring, and the sharing of lessons and materials.