Mr. Dirk Wagener, UNDP Resident Representative giving opening remarks at the PNG Political Parties and Women in Leadership. forum Seated (R-L) is Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Dr. Alphonse Gelu, Registry of Political Parties and H.E . Philip Taula, New Zealand High Commissioner. © Kim Allen/UNDP

Dirk Wagener, UNDP Resident Representative


PNG Political Parties & Women in Political Leadership Forum

14-15 November 2019, Holiday Inn

Opening ceremony – Welcome remarks


Hon. James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea,

H.E. Philip Taula, New Zealand High Commissioner

Dr. Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Political Parties

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

A very warm welcome to all participants, especially those who have travelled to this event from around PNG and the Pacific - Welcome to the country of a thousand tribes, cultures, and languages.

I am delighted to be with you all this morning to give some remarks on behalf of UNDP.

As you will see from your agenda, the aim of this forum is two-fold, firstly to expose party executives in Papua New Guinea to the experiences of their colleagues in other countries within the region.

Secondly, to maintain and foster dialogue between women leaders who intend to contest in the next national elections by way of creating linkages amongst them with support from the Registry of Political Parties and its Stakeholders.

UNDP and our partners continue to work on this issue because our region – the Pacific region – has the lowest number of female parliamentarians in the world.  The percentage of women in Pacific parliaments is slowly increasing but as of January 2019 is still only 8%. 

PNG has only had 7 women in parliament since 1975[1] and as you all know, regrettably PNG has no women in the current parliament of 111 members. After the 2017 elections the situation was alarming as PNG was one of five[2] countries globally that did not have a single woman in Parliament.

The onus is on us to turn this around and to improve and increase women’s political participation in this country for balanced decision-making and equal representation.

Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile and the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, once said “When one woman is a leader, it changes her. When more women are leaders, it changes politics and policies.”[3]

The UN believes that: “Democracy needs women in order to be truly democratic, and women need democracy if they are to change the systems and laws that preclude them, and preclude societies as a whole, from attaining equality”.[4]

As Dame Carol Kidu has said: “Political representation is really important…you have to get the different ways of looking at things around the decision-making table, as well as role modelling for young girls to see women in those decision-making positions”.[5]

The 2022 election will be a very important event in PNG given this situation and this Forum provides us all an opportunity to discuss and plan for a better outcome than 2017.

Some of you will remember it was a jubilant moment after the 2012 National General Elections in PNG, as three women members were declared elected. Previously, we only had Dame Carol Kidu who served as a lone female parliamentarian for three terms.

Today we are pleased to have with us two of those three successful candidates Ms Delilah Gore, former Member for Sohe District; and Ms Julie Soso, former Governor for Eastern Highlands Province to give us insights on their experience.  We are also fortunate that a female candidate from the 2017 elections Ms Rufina Peter will share her experience with us during this forum.

We will also hear from women who are leaders in this field and have worked tirelessly to support this agenda from whom you will hear from during this Forum.

Finding and supporting male advocates continues to be a key element of our work. We thank you leading male advocates such as Dr Gelu and others who continue to work with us on this issue despite the odds.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have come this far, but the challenge continues and so must our journey to advocate for good governance, transparent and accountable leadership and of course balanced decision making and representation – by ensuring that women, who are half the population of this country, have a voice and contribute to development of PNG.

Through this forum and your deliberations over the next two days, your participation will help us – UNDP, the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission, our donors and our partners to continue supporting the Government and People of Papua New Guinea – to make progress towards achieving gender equality, and enabling women to take up leadership roles is an integral part of this.

Ladies and Gentle, in June 2020, PNG will be present its first Voluntary Report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.  Sustainable Development Goal number 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and Sustainable Development Goal number 16 on good governance are key enablers to achieving the 2030 Agenda. 

We want to support PNG so that it achieves its development aspirations as envisaged in the PNG Vision 2050 and Medium-Term Development Plan 2018-2022.  We know that promoting gender equality through enabling women’s leadership in politics, and strengthening institutions to promote democratic governance are key.  We know this has and can have an impact because of countries such as Rwanda where more than 60% of the MPs are women, or New Zealand where 40% are women.

Ladies and Gentlemen to conclude, I express my sincere gratitude to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. James Marape for accepting the invitation from the Registrar of Political Parties and UNDP to this very important forum.  This will help set the direction for the work to be done to support political parties to be better organized, and strengthened as key institutions for democratic governance; and also for women to be supported and encouraged to participate in the political life of this country and take leadership roles.

I also wish to sincerely thank the Government of New Zealand for supporting UNDP in PNG and in the Pacific region on this work – without your kind contribution, our work would not be possible.

Tenk yu tru long yupla olgeta long kam bung wantaim mipla.  I wish you all a very successful two-day forum and look forward to the outcome.




[2] Others were Yemen, Qatar, Micronesia, Vanuatu




Media Contact:

Mr. Kim Allen,


UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Papua New Guinea 
Go to UNDP Global