Josephine, only female with a ministerial position in the Bougainville House of Representatives

Mar 30, 2018

Member for Peit and Minister for Community Development, Josephine Getsi. ©Nick Turner/UNDP (AROB)

Josephine Getsi is the only female within the Autonomous Bougainville Government to hold a ministerial position, and the only female to be elected to an open seat by her constituents across both the Bougainville House of Reps and PNG's National Parliament. The only female.

Her constituency of Peit is one of 33 that span the length and breadth of the Autonomous Region. Stretching from the atolls and islands, to the mountains that divide the centre of the mainland portion of the region, what Bougainville may lack in size it certainly makes up for in diversity and beauty.

In her 60s, Minister Getsi sprints through the bush like a teenager and was the first to jump out of our boat when we hit dry land due to the tide being so low as we wound our way down a narrow river that was, supposedly, crocodile-infested.

Conducting referendum awareness is not an easy task; the population of 300,000 strong is one that was left with many scars after the civil war throughout the 1980s and 90s, and no doubt there are many questions, for many people, that remain unanswered.

UNDP in PNG was lucky enough to spend last week with Minister Getsi as she visited Peit to conduct awareness sessions on the upcoming referendum in Bougainville, one that will see the region make a choice on its political future.

It wasn’t just Minister Getsi whose passion was on display in Peit, there was also Stanley, an inmate at the local correctional institute who has just eight months left to serve on his sentence. A man who could no longer remember his own age yet spoke so eloquently about Brexit and the political future of Great Britain.

Then there was Innocent, who day after day presented on the peace process, the referendum and weapons disposal, taking questions, many of which were the same from village to village, and answered each of these as though he had never heard such a question before. 

This is just a microcosm of the good that exists across not just Bougainville, but Papua New Guinea as a whole. Sometimes you need days like these to remind you of how beautiful this country and its people truly are.

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All hands on deck to push our boat through the low tide as we make our way to Pororan Island. ©Nick Turner/UNDP (AROB)
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Stanley Gatana, an inmate at the Bekut Correctional Facility. ©Nick Turner/UNDP (AROB)
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Listening intently to the referendum awareness session in Bekut Village. ©Nick Turner/UNDP (AROB)
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The flags of Papua New Guinea, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and Peit. ©Nick Turner/UNDP (AROB)
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Innocent Kunuan, Executive Officer for Minister Josephine Getsi. ©Nick Turner/UNDP (AROB)

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