U.S. supports PNG Women in Politics

The National Democratic Institute is conducting a two-day practical workshop to promote women’s resilience and mental health, ahead of the upcoming elections in Papua New Guinea.

The workshop is being held through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), from April 25-26, 2022.

The event kicked off today in Port Moresby with almost 20 women political candidates from across PNG’s diverse electorate. The workshop was led by two expert facilitators from the Pacific: Shirley Kaupa, an expert on Gender-Based Violence in Papua New Guinea, and Saimone Tuni, a psychologist known for promoting mental health in his home country of Fiji and across the Pacific.

Opening the workshop, Theonila Roka Matbob, Minister for Education, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, shared her story of coming into politics and advice for the political hopefuls.

“Melanesia is family oriented, but our politics is currently not. We need to see women getting multiple terms in parliament. Until that time, we can’t say that this government is truly Papua New Guinean or truly Bouganvillian,” said Minister Roka Matbob.

“The United States government believes that women’s empowerment is not optional - it’s a must,” said David Hatch, Senior Development Advisor for USAID.

“We know that Papua New Guinean women are just as qualified as men to hold political positions. We are honored to support this workshop to better enable these women candidates to compete equally and fairly, despite the disadvantages they may face while running for office.”

Equitable participation and empowerment of women in politics and government is essential to building and sustaining democracy. While political violence can be experienced by both men and women, violence against women in politics (VAW-P) has three particular characteristics: it targets women because of their gender; it can be gendered in its form; and its impact is to discourage all women from political activity. It is one of the most serious hurdles to women’s full and equal political participation, both globally and in Papua New Guinea.

"Many consider that harassment, threats, psychological abuse in-person and online, physical, and sexual assault are ‘the cost of doing politics.’ NDI has been working on challenging this claim by raising awareness of the violence that politically active women face, collecting data on it, and building capacity among partners to mitigate its impact and hold the perpetrators to account,” said Ancuţa Hansen, Senior Director for the Pacific Islands for the National Democratic Institute.

The first day of the workshop discussed learnings from around the world and the local context, to explore the impact of violence against women in politics and elections. The participants learned to recognize various tactics of gendered online disinformation and disinformation and ways in which gendered narratives are manipulated and gendered online violence is used in political campaigns. They also gained hand-on skills on how to identify and overcome gendered domination techniques.

On the second day, participants will learn how to recognize stressors and make sense of psychosocial trauma. Facilitators will introduce a range of approaches to build personal and organizational resilience to stress and trauma. This includes stress management and self-care strategies and creating networks of support and solidarity.

Finally, participants will be equipped with skills to mitigate harassment and disinformation campaigns, map stakeholders, and advocate for action.

Press Release