Women from South, Central and North Bougainville have come together for a five-day conference from 28 August to 1 September 2017, to highlight the significant role, both historically and currently, that women play in peacebuilding and security in the region.
Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Bougainville House of Representatives’ Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Peace and Security, the conference is designed to ensure that Bougainville women's efforts in peacebuilding are recognised and their voices are heard by political leaders and decision makers in Bougainville and in PNG.
Julie Bukikun, UNDP’s assistant resident representative and head of governance said: “The role of women in Bougainville is critical. Often women are consulted privately, but do not always have a vocal public role and few women have public leadership roles, making it difficult for them to input into government and community decision making.“This conference will ensure women are heard and will continue to play a significant role in Bougainville's journey to determine its political future.”
The theme of the conference is: Celebrating our Unity – We Support a weapons free Bougainville for a Peaceful Referendum.
The aims of the conference include:
1. Establishing and/or agreeing on key issues for women in Bougainville
2. Understanding of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, its key pillars and participation in key processes such as the referendum and weapons disposal currently led by the national government and the ABG
3. Unification and solidarity to promote women’s empowerment and advance their participation in political processes
With the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) preparing for the referendum to determine its political future, UNDP is supporting referendum preparations and the delivery of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA), following requests from the National Government and the ABG.
The BPA, signed in 2001 by the Government of PNG and leaders of Bougainville, ended a decade-long armed conflict in 2001 and provides a roadmap for the work being conducted by UNDP in Bougainville and PNG.