He challenged women leaders in the province to support each other in the country’s next National General Elections in 2022.
Dr Gelu utilized the opportunity to advocate for women to step forward to contest in the coming elections. He said it is important that women have a voice in Parliament. He said women currently represent at the ward, president, and local level governments but are still not represented consistently in Parliament.
Since Papua New Guinea gained Independence in 1975, only seven women have sat in Parliament. These women include former Governor of Eastern Highlands Province Julie Soso (who was present at the event), Loujaya Kouza, Delilah Gore, Dame Carol Kidu, Dame Josephine Abaikah, Waliyato Clowes, and Nahau Rooney.
Dr Gelu said women’s representation in parliament is needed as the country’s population is made up of 50% female, and 50% male. He challenged the women to support the SHP Women’s Advocacy Plan.
“Women in Papua New Guinea, women in Southern Highlands, you need to start mobilizing upla yet. Disla kain bung, em gutpla bung.
“The fight for your voice in parliament, is also the fight for the common good of your villages, communities, district na province,” Dr Gelu said.
Dr Gelu said, “Men have already been given the opportunity to lead and govern at the national level since independence. What about women?”
He said women’s biggest challenges come from other women.
“Ol meri yet, upla yet sa bagarapim upla yet.” (Women, you yourselves are your worst enemies.)
Dr Gelu emphasized that the makeup of parliament must reflect the makeup of society.
Echoing similar sentiments of women being each other’s biggest challenge. As the first woman from the Highlands to be elected Governor, Julie Soso, admitted that she did not have the support she needed from other women to continue her reign as Governor.
PNG Women in Coffee Founder and President, & APEC Award Winner Sallyn Lomutopa said that it is time to change. She admits women have failed themselves in becoming leaders in parliament.
Founder of Mama Halipim Mama Foundation Ruth Undi, encouraged all women to reconnect and join hands to support each other to bring change in order to see women leaders in Parliament.