In many parts of Papua New Guinea, fear of violence and harassment has caused a set back to the lives and small businesses of many women, but new candidates who now intend to enter politics aim to change this for the better.
“People within the community have approached me to stand for election - to revive the work and services my father had supported,” explains a local female candidate intending to enter politics.
This candidate says she may be privileged to use her father's name and legacy, but also is aware of the challenges she faces as a woman in her community and believes that she can bring more positives to make a difference.
“My father was the former member of the electorate I am intending to contest,” explained this candidate at the 2021 Southern Region Workshop on Women’s Political Participation. “I grew up enjoying the quality of services provided, and the safety in community. Today, I cannot access services and cannot walk freely in the community I call home."
2022 is set to be a big year as Papua New Guinea goes to the polls in June for the National General Election. It will also be a big year for the United Nations Development Programme and its partner - the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission (IPPCC) - to continue supporting aspiring women candidates and the political parties involved in work to address the gaps in women’s leadership roles within the parties. There are currently no women in Parliament.
The first major event of 2022 is the National Forum on Women in Political Leadership where sixty women leaders from across Papua New Guinea will meet with executives of political parties. This forum, to be held during 18-20 January 2022, will allow participants to understand issues faced by women candidates in past elections and approaches to address them.
The forum participants will also discuss strategies for common issues that arise during elections, including electoral laws and rules and how to deal with them, and identify entry points to engage political parties and to be supported by them.
The Women in Political Participation and Representation Training Manual for Women Candidates - a joint publication by the IPPCC and UNDP - will be launched at the forum. The manual provides practical guidance to help design and run smart and effective campaigns. Following this event, both partners plan to hold a practice parliament in February 2022 to support national awareness and advocacy on women’s participation in leadership roles and politics.
The National Forum and initiatives in support of women’s political participation and leadership roles are part of the Women Make the Change Project, funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.