The first collection of writing by Papua New Guinean women, My Walk to Equality, was launched last night before 80 people at a high-spirited event at The Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby. The book’s editor, Rashmii Amoah Bell, could not be there and her speech was delivered by Cr Ingrid Jackson. The launch - which included a number of powerful presentations by leading women - was scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Day. The book will also be launched at the Mary Ryan bookshop at Milton in Brisbane next Thursday
TO the brilliant 44 Papua New Guinean women writers. To Keith Jackson and Philip Fitzpatrick. Well we did it!
I extend my apologies for my absence from this Port Moresby launch of our milestone publication. If there is anything I am more devoted to than reading, writing and praising God Almighty, it is my young family and fulfilling my daily responsibilities to my three children.
And so I thank Councillor Ingrid Jackson who has kindly agreed to convey these words on my behalf to this wonderful gathering celebrating the publication of My Walk to Equality.
I think of the book as a tangible form of the dedication of the many people and organisations that brought it into existence or who, through their financial support, are making it available to thousands of Papua New Guineans.
Writing is a lone effort. But there are always life experiences from which to mine inspiration and support. There are many influences that have writers take a blank page and transform it into words and lines and pages of creativity, ideas, imaginings, articulating the things that matter to us.
There are two people present here tonight that I want to acknowledge as important in my development as a published writer. They are Margo Nugent and Keith Jackson. Lily PNG magazine is where Papua New Guinean readers first read my writing in print publication.
And it is Keith Jackson’s PNG Attitude blog that I consider the home of my writing and where I am ever grateful to have my imagination and commentary regularly brought to public view.
Together with Philip Fitzpatrick and Pukpuk Publications, these people have been phenomenal in encouraging and steering my writing and editing to where it is today.
Their support was pivotal in enabling me to embrace the opportunity of assuming the editorial role for this incredible book.
This event today also acknowledges those people who have supported the anthology project from the time it commenced in late September last year.
I express my heartfelt gratitude to Jo Holman and to Paga Hill Development Company, which provided the initial funding for the book, for believing in our vision for My Walk to Equality. I sincerely hope we have produced a body of work you are proud of.
The theme of this International Women's Day 2017 calls for women to be Bold For Change.
Writers, editors and publishers understand the power of literature in altering perceptions and in influencing, and even driving, social change. But it takes courage to write for change.
It is my hope that in 2017 people in our nation will come to recognise that a home-grown literature more than a hobby; that it is an effective mechanism to encourage and sustain change amongst Papua New Guineans for Papua New Guinea.
Jo Holman and Paga Hill Development Company have constantly demonstrated their belief that indigenous writing – and especially women’s writing - has an important role in contributing to a national conversation about appropriate development and social equality.
It is my sincere hope that our country will embrace and provide opportunities for indigenous writers to produce high standard work to that will create a substantial Papua New Guinean national literature.
So thanks to the My Walk to Equality collaborative team for providing this great opportunity. It has been an absolute privilege and honour to work alongside you. Keep writing and be ambitious to have your work published.
In this international year of women being bold for change, let us walk boldly. Let us walk to equality!