Meri Seif bus drivers meet Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls

Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr Sharman Stone met Papua New Guinean women who are being trained in Australia by bus company, Ventura to become drivers for the Meri Seif buses, a service for women only.

The women will be trained as part of the Safe Public Transport for Women, Girls and Children program funded through Pacific Women, supported under the Papua New Guinea-Australia partnership, and managed by UN Women.  The program aims to improve the safety of public transport for women and girls in Port Moresby and includes efforts to engage in roles that have been traditional male roles in Papua New Guinea.

Christina Memti is training to be a Seif Meri bus driver.  Photo: Eric Tlozek/ABC News

Ambassador Stone met the women at the Ginigoada Foundation, a local organisation running the Meri Seif buses, when she visited the Foundation to see their work in improving the safety of women on public transport, as well as providing life skills, literacy and vocational training for vulnerable youth and women.

Australian bus company, Ventura, provided four large buses as a donation to support the program.  Ventura has further committed to train six Papua New Guinean women to become bus drivers. They will learn how to drive 29-seater buses for Port Moresby.

“To hop on a bus and see a woman behind the wheel, we thought that would be an incredibly positive statement,” Ginigoada Foundation manager, Pastor Mike Field, said.

“Women drivers for women passengers, that’s the way forward and I’m all for it,” trainee Gorame Momo said.

Ambassador Stone said Australia supports the Ginigoada Foundation and the work of UN Women to improve opportunities that empower women and girls and end violence against women and girls.

“Australia will continue to work with nongovernment organisations and community-based organisations to optimise access and equitable opportunities for women and girls,” Ambassador Stone said.

Ambassador Stone visited Port Moresby and Lae as part of her visit to Papua New Guinea in November 2017. She met with Papua New Guinea stakeholders working to ensure women’s representation in Parliament, the economic empowerment of women, ending family and sexual violence, and sorcery accusation related violence as part of Papua New Guinea’s 20 Days of Human Rights Activism.