The theme of this inaugural Summit, Now is the Time: United for Equality, has set a marker that all Papua New Guineans are being called on to pursue in their daily lives.
Opened by the Prime Minister, James Marape, the Summit brings together representatives from Parliament, Government, development partners, civil society, the private sector and most importantly, community members from Papua New Guinea’s 22 provinces, the National Capital District and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Joining the opening of the Summit via video link, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said: “Collective and comprehensive action on ending violence against women and girls could not be more urgent. Mohammed stressed that this, “is the kind of leadership the world needs right now”.
The Summit is the latest in a series of efforts driven by a coalition of 20 Parliamentarians who have committed to not only elevate the national response to such violence but pursue actions that level the playing field for both men and women in all areas of life.
One the coalition’s founding members and co-chair of the Summit, the Governor for the National Capital District, Powes Parkop, said: “The levels of violence being perpetrated against women in our country are amongst the highest in the world. We cannot let this continue. It is destroying Papua New Guinea and is our greatest impediment to achieving our full potential as a member of the international community.”
These sentiments were echoed by fellow Summit co-chair, the Governor of East Sepik Province, Allan Bird, who said: “I have seen for myself time and time the critical role women play in creating opportunity and ensuring families prosper. I have also seen far too many times how violence undermines these opportunities and destroys lives.
“We need to act now to eradicate all forms and such violence. It is not who we are as Papua New Guineans.”
Convening from 8 to 10 November, the Summit will consider ways to elevate the status of women, the need for institutional reform, initiatives to increase women’s participation in decision making bodies, including representation in the national parliament, and how to encourage positive change in social attitudes towards women, gender and empowerment.
The Summit is being hosted by the National Capital District Commission with the support of the United Nations through the European Union’s global Spotlight Initiative and the government of Australia.