Papua New Guinea

The Australian Government’s contracted commitment to Pacific Women in Papua New Guinea until 2022 is over $116 million.

There are two key documents providing information about the gender equality work in Papua New Guinea:

While Pacific Women completes its tenure in June 2022, the Australian Government’s commitment and support for gender equality in Papua New Guinea will continue through the new PNG Women Lead program. This follows the transition of the regional Pacific Women program in 2021 to the new, AUD170 million Pacific Women Lead program.


(Information collated from Pacific Women implementing partner reports cumulative to December 2021 unless otherwise stated)

Leadership and Decision Making

Pacific Women ensured that women’s voices, interests and needs were prioritised in the Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery planning. Pacific Women investments supported women to form and strengthen associations as an effective ‘collective’ voice – building skills and confidence of women to take up leadership roles in their communities and in the private sector.

  • Pacific Women investments resulted in 3,684 women gaining skills and confidence to take up leadership roles in the private sector, in subnational government particularly in Bougainville, in communities, and within market management committees. Women have attributed their confidence, demonstrated capability to deliver for their communities, and good community perception of them as leaders, to their involvement in Pacific Women-funded projects.
  • Advocacy, including by Pacific Women partners, through the national Protection Cluster and the Bougainville Joint Agency Task Force on COVID-19 resulted in the prioritisation, and mainstreaming, of the protection of women, children and vulnerable populations in the COVID-19 response.
  • The program supported coalitions of women leaders and male champions to advocate for women’s issues, including in favour of temporary special measures to increase women’s representation in political forums, an end to violence against women and girls, and appropriate financial support to safe houses and gender-based violence service providers.
  • Twenty Market Vendor Associations representing almost 4,500 vendors, the majority of whom are women, were established in Port Moresby and Wewak through the Pacific Women supported UN Women Safe City Project. An evaluation of the project published in 2019 found that through newly formed market vendor associations and market management committees, women vendors obtained a voice in managing markets in a more inclusive and empowering way.
  • Nine Young Women’s Associations were formed in Bougainville through the Young Women’s Leadership project. Young women who have participated in this and a similar project in Jiwaka have taken up leadership roles in their communities, churches, wards, health and education sectors in their communities and are setting up income generating activities.
  • There is evidence that family and community support for women to take up leadership positions is increasing. For example, the Inclusive Development project funded 126 projects, led by women’s groups across all 43 community government areas in Bougainville. A beneficiary survey conducted in 2018 found 82 per cent of villages in which grants were implemented reported a significant positive change in their perception of the role of women as implementers and leaders in their community.
  • More than 90 organisations have invested in women as supervisors, managers, and building the pipeline of and supporting women in senior executive roles. Over 250 women have completed the Business Coalition for Women’s Certificate IV Leadership and Management, 33 women have completed the Senior Executive Women’s Program, and 21 women and 24 men have completed the PNG Directors Course. In 2021, a 12 month follow up survey with Certificate IV graduates found 68 per cent received a pay increase and almost half were promoted into positions of leadership following their graduation.
  • The Political Leadership Academy was launched in December 2021, in partnership with the Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance. This is an important and ongoing initiative developing a pipeline of women leaders.

Economic Empowerment

Evaluations demonstrate that families supported to reconsider workloads and power within their family are sharing workloads, improving communication and setting shared goals and experiencing increased incomes and improved family wellbeing.

  • In Pacific Women projects where family-based approaches were adopted, women increased their decision making within the family, workloads were more equitably shared and women reported increased control over income and assets.
  • Research from the Coffee Industry Support Project found households in which women received extension services training reported 22 per cent higher income from their coffee sales than households where women were not trained.
  • Businesses supported by the Business Coalition for Women are creating work environments that are supportive of staff and where violence, sexual harassment and the safety issues affecting women and men differently are taken into account. An estimated 59 businesses supported by the Business Coalition for Women have implemented at least one substantive change to improve working conditions for women employees. Companies are not only making changes internally, they are also adding their voices on social media, at national summits, and by participating in ending violence against women campaigns to denounce family and sexual violence.
  • Through Pacific Women, 16,648 women have accessed financial information and services including financial literacy and business skills training. More than 4,400 women have directly benefitted from business skills training, resources and networking opportunities provided by the Women’s Business Resource Centre in Port Moresby since it opened in November 2016. In addition, 233 women reported expanding their businesses as a result of the knowledge, skills and networks gained through the Centre.

Ending Violence against Women

Positive gender 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, there is strong evidence of reduced tolerance of violence against women in communities and organisations in which Pacific Women partners worked.
  • Families’ and communities’ understanding of the causes and consequences of violence against women have increased. A diverse range of actors are speaking out against and acting to prevent violence against women and children in communities. These included young men through rugby clubs, local community leaders introducing and implementing community by-laws to protect women, and men and women intervening when they witness violence against women. Communities reported reductions in family and sexual violence. Research from the Kommuniti Lukautim Ol Meri project in Western Highlands found a reduction in the incidence of physical violence and marital rape from 2016 to 2018.
  • Understanding that preventing violence against women is everyone’s business, 3,853 men and youth have been actively engaged in promoting gender equality. These included young male advocates in the Sanap Wantaim campaign, the youth targeted Inap Nau campaign, male peer-to-peer leaders in schools, male community mobilisers, and male activists and advocates in a range of Pacific Women The Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee worked for many years, with the support of several partners including Pacific Women, to develop a package of male advocacy training and guidelines for local Papua New Guinean contexts.
  • Pacific Women partners have provided 24,675 women and girls facing violence with 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, Oxfam, the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and UN Women 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. This included ensuring that services remain accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Through the innovative public-private partnership Bel isi PNG initiative, subscribing companies contribute to the cost of delivering counselling support and safe house services to survivors of violence in Port Moresby. Private sector leaders are supported to: understand the causes and consequences of violence; act to deter violence impacting on their workplaces; support their employees; and to advocate within their organisations and networks for an end to violence against women. There are currently 15 subscribing companies, with 10,000 employees.
  • Across the program, partners worked to educate communities and advocated for an end to violence against children. Parents participating in the UNICEF Parenting for Child Development program in 2018 significantly reduced harsh parenting practices by learning parenting skills and building their knowledge of children’s intellectual, emotional and physical development needs. Parents involved also reported significant reductions in violence by their spouse. The Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation’s pilot school-based program changed student’s behaviours in favour of non-violence and more respectful attitudes with improvements in learning outcomes also reported. Equal Playing Field’s Safe Schools project fosters healthy and respectful relationships between girls and boys and supports teachers and schools to promote a safe and supportive school environment for all children. Surveys of participants indicate 85 per cent report improved confidence in publicly speaking up for gender equality and non-violence.

Enhanced Knowledge and Understanding

Pacific Women’s research contributed to increasing understanding of gender inequality and drivers of change and is informing Pacific Women partner designs and other development partners’ programming.

  • The Do No Harm research identified that women’s economic empowerment requires women to have access not only to resources, but also to have power, agency and decision making. The research and evaluations of the family-based approaches informed and were incorporated into subsequent Pacific Women partner designs and also other development partners’ design and programming.
  • The Government of Papua New Guinea’s new Markets for Village Farmers and Agricultural Commercialisation Development projects both explicitly refer to adopting CARE’s Family Business Management Training and the University of Canberra’s Family Farm Teams modules.
  • The Coffee Industry Corporation is incorporating CARE Coffee organisational strengthening modules into its curriculum and is setting up Village Savings and Loans Associations. The University of Canberra’s Family Farm Team modules have been incorporated into the Fresh Produce Development Agency Village Extension Worker program.
  • The Safe City project developed a market vendor association and multi-stakeholder market management committee model to promote more inclusive and empowering market management. This has been taken up by the Department for Community Development and Religion as the ‘voice strategy’ in the draft Informal Economy Strategy as a practical and formal means for women and men in the informal economy to engage in government decision making.
  • Pacific Women research into the use and efficacy of Family Protection Orders found that the majority of applicants felt safer when an interim protection order was issued, but awareness of protection orders was still limited.
  • Pacific Women has increased the empirically-based understanding of the causes of violence resulting from sorcery accusations and what interventions work to reduce the impacts of violence. Based on analysis, the team have estimated that 12 people are killed and a further 14 suffer serious harm, including permanent injury as a result of sorcery accusation-related violence across Papua New Guinea each month. Pacific Women research is also demonstrating effective community-based strategies to reduce the harms associated with sorcery accusations.
  • Research looking at workplace responses to family and sexual violence in Papua New Guinea undertaken by the International Finance Corporation and the Business Coalition for Women found promising outcomes emerging as a result of companies’ structured responses to family and sexual violence.
  • Toolkits, training manuals, communication posters, songs and other resources developed by Pacific Women partners are shared with and used by other projects and organisations. The Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee-developed Referral Pathway Guideline and Survivor Advocates Toolkit is being used by Oxfam’s local partners and informed the development of Bel isi PNG materials. The Women and Extractives and the Young Women’s Leadership team exchanged resources and facilitators to deliver family farm teams modules in Bougainville, and leadership training developed in Bougainville was delivered in the mine affected communities.

Pacific Women partners in Papua New Guinea

Government of Papua New Guinea: Constitutional and Law Reform Commission; Department for Community Development and Religion (including Office for the Development of Women); Department of Justice and Attorney General; Department of National Planning and Monitoring; Family Support Centres in Arawa, Daru, Goroka, Lae and Port Moresby; Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission; Morobe Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee; National Capital District Commission; National Department of Health; National Secretariat of the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee; National Youth Council; New Ireland Department of Primary Industries; Provincial Health Authorities in East Sepik, Madang, Morobe, New Ireland, West New Britain, West Sepik, Western; and Western Highlands; and Port Moresby General Hospital.

Autonomous Bougainville Government: Departments of Community Development and Health.

Papua New Guinean civil society partners: Backyard Farms; Baptist Union PNG; Bougainville Women’s Federation; Business Coalition for Women; Catholic Dioceses of Madang, Western Highlands/Jiwaka and Simbu; Community Development Workers Association Inc; Equal Playing Field; Family for Change; Femili PNG; Ginigoada Foundation; Hako Women’s Collective; Highlands Women’s Human Rights Defenders Movement; Kafe Urban Settlers Women’s Association; Kedu Seif Haus; Kup Women for Peace; Lifeline PNG; Motu Koita Village Women’s Associations; National Council of Women; Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation; The Voice Inc; Voice for Change; and Wide Bay Conservation Association.

Other partners: Asian Development Bank; Australian National University; Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; CARE International; Center for International Private Enterprise; Divine Word University; FHI 360; Frieda River Limited; GriffinWorx; International Committee of the Red Cross; International Finance Corporation; International Women’s Development Agency; Menzies School of Health Research; Oil Search Foundation; Oxfam in PNG; Pacific Adventist University; Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research; Papua New Guinea National Research Institute; Population Services International; Queensland University of Technology; The Difference Incubator; UNICEF; UN Women; United Nations Development Programme; United States Embassy; University of Canberra; University of Goroka; University of Queensland; University of Papua New Guinea; World Bank; and Pacific Women’s regional partners.