PORT MORESBY - It was such a privilege to sit alongside a group of distinguished Papua New Guineans as we collectively recognised the nomination of the first book authored by PNG women as our country’s nomination for the annual UNESCO Girls’ and Women’s Education (GWE) Prize.
In addition to counterparts and supporters of My Walk to Equality and PNG Attitude, we were joined by Ponabe Yuwa, the Education Department’s UNESCO representative and Ambassador Joshua Kalinoe.
The GWE Prize was established by the UNESCO, supported by the Chinese government, in 2016 to reward outstanding efforts by individuals, institutions and other entities engaged in activities to promote girls’ and women’s education.
The prize contributes to two of the United Nations’ development goals: inclusiveness and equality in education and the achievement of gender equality and empowerment for women and girls.
The successful projects in 2016, the first year, were from Indonesia and Zimbabwe and last year from Thailand and Peru. This year’s prize will be awarded in October at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, France.
The ‘My Walk to Equality’ project team is delighted to be PNG’s candidate this prestigious international award.
MWTE is an outstanding voluntary literary project of global quality which consists of contributions from 45 women writers from PNG who originally came together to write a book, published in March last year, and since have undertaken other related projects.
The primary objective of the MWTE project is to encourage girls and women to engage in writing and publishing as a mechanism for social activism in PNG. The project captures the daily challenges and positive contributions made by PNG women to improve the livelihoods of individuals, the community and the nation as a whole.
It promotes the idea that women and girls are not to be left behind but actively included in nation building through achieving the difficult task of gender equality and participation in all aspects of society by women and girls.
Since the publication of MWTE, we have received a number of criticisms from some people seemingly because of the donors and assistance we received in publishing this great book – which represented a rare window into the lives of PNG women and the challenges we face and the achievements we have made.
Those women who criticised us should celebrate with us, the 45 PNG women who set out to explain and challenge the inequalities that confront us in PNG. If we are to progress, women need to support each other’s work and achievements.
We all benefit when we celebrate another woman’s accomplishments. Together we can do more, go further and change the world. It is a waste of effort if we talk about promoting gender equality and don’t celebrate steps taken to achieve it.
It is a sad reality in PNG that some women don’t stand together for their mutual good but instead constantly compete to bring each other down.
It is unhealthy and it’s destructive, and it interferes with efforts to break down barriers and empower ourselves to overcome the oppression from men we too often face.
This attitude of self-gratification and envy impedes collaboration and he development of a strong voice for advocacy. It has to change if we are to move forward.