Pride and purpose in road projects for women

During Papua New Guinea’s 20 Days of Human Rights Activism, Bougainville women have reflected on their role in maintaining hundreds of kilometres of roads in the region and the impact of the work on their lives.

In partnership with the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Australia employs thousands of women on road projects through Community Works Agreements.

The agreements engage the local community in works such as grass cutting, drainage clearing and minor repairs.


Australia funded more than 18,000 Bougainvilleans through Community Works Agreements last year. The female participation rate in these works has steadily climbed in recent years, and in 2015 reached an all-time high of 33 per cent.


North Bougainville Community Liaison Officer Rhonda Siro describes how this gives local residents a sense of pride in the section of the road they have worked on.


“Teams working on the road value the community agreements and the income they generate. There is also a strong sense of looking after this vital road link that brings economic and social benefits to the whole island,” she says.


“The women who work as team leaders in North Bougainville tell me that the position and the income give them confidence and a greater voice in the community”.


One such community team leader, Veronica Tasin, sees many different benefits from the scheme and witnesses first-hand the impact on her local community. “The income from this work gives me the flexibility to pay school fees and buy the little extras that my family needs.”


Team leader Anna Vatoro agrees the work can empower women in her community who often have limited income generating opportunities. “I am proud to be a team leader. This work is well respected and valued. The women in my team work hard to take care of the road for the benefit of Bougainville. The works have strengthened the position of women in our community.”


In cooperation with the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Australian Aid Program funds the upgrade and maintenance of almost 400km of Bougainville’s road network each year delivered through the Transport Sector Support Program (TSSP).


Press Release