This was presented to the Minister for Community Development and Religion, Wake Goi during a forum held this week.
Over 100 representatives from various CSOs participated in a one-day forum on Gender Equality and Human rights that was organized in observance of International Human Rights Day by UN Women and CIMC with funding from the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on holding large gatherings, the main event was held in Port Moresby, with satellite events in Lae, Goroka, Mount Hagen and Kokopo.
The forum brought together civil society, human rights defenders, private entities, and faith-based organizations to have conversations with government and development partners.
They addressed key successes, challenges and opportunities in progressing gender equality and human rights within PNG.
During the forum, CSOs presented a ‘call to Action’ to the Minister for Community Development and Religion Hon Wake Goi.
Key recommendations included the call for Government to invest in CSOs and ensure better coordination and distribution of public resources, aimed at:
- Advancing gender equality and human rights;
- The endorsement and approval of State Civil Society Partnership Policy, so that CSO can receive funding directly from government;
- Establishment of a Human Rights Institution by Government to coordinate Human Rights efforts by both public and private sectors; and
- Investment in Women’s Economic Empowerment activities to prevent GBV and support for GBV prevention and response initiatives led by CSOs, among others.
In receiving the call, Minister Goi on behalf of the Government, commended CSOs for extending the government’s arm in service delivery and recommitted its support to ensuring a more coordinated partnership in addressing development challenges.
UN Women Country Representative, Themba Kalua congratulated the Government over the allocation of K7.93 million in the 2022 National Budget to address Gender-Based Violence.
“Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19 in 2021, there has been a great deal of momentum in PNG in the fight against GBV. This momentum gives us and especially the women who experience violence a sense of hope that one day, GBV in PNG will be history,” he said
Mr Kalua added that fighting GBV requires predictable and flexible funding for women’s rights organizations, who often act as first responders during crises.
He also pledged UN Women’s support to continue to provide technical assistance in the delivery of policies and programmes for the country, to realize the aspirations of its Vision 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Deputy Australian High Commissioner, Paul Lehmann pledged continued support to the Civil Society Organizations in Papua New Guinea.
“We have seen benefits from our previous direct engagements with civil society, specifically the Pacific women. This proved that direct approach could also work.
“It has made these Civil Society Organizations grow into strong organizations. We were directly funding 12 CSOs in our previous program and plan to continue funding CSO come 2022,” Mr Lehmann said.
The Head of European Union in PNG, Rene Mally advised CSOs to come up with sustainable ways of managing their operations other than depending on the donor funding.
“In Europe, CSOs depend on money from their own initiatives like member contributions. This makes them stronger and independent when it comes to putting government to account. The risk of CSOs getting funding from government is likely to compromise their role as watchdogs,” he said.
Jane Kenni, women leader and mentor shared on how a small group of likeminded women advocated, mobilized resources, and established the country’s first Family Support Centre (FSC) within Angau Hospital in Lae with no government funding. This is now the center of excellence for clinical and psychosocial response for GBV survivors and has been scaled out in other provincial hospitals.
While the Director for Youth and Women in Agriculture association, Kiteni Kurika shared how she is addressing poverty and GBV by empowering youth and women economically through cocoa, copra, garlic and livestock farming.
“Women and youth economic empowerment projects are mostly funded by donors. We need Government to invest in CSOs, so that we can sustain these community-based initiatives. When women and youth are economically empowered, they are able to make better choices in life.”