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Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko – pioneering gender academic

Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko 2
Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko

CATHY KEIMELO | Gender in PNG Research Program

PORT MORESBY – As a teacher, advocate, mentor and silent achiever, the late Dr Anne Nealibo Dickson-Waiko (1950-2018) will be remembered for her contributions to the advancement of women in Papua New Guinea.

Hailing from Wagawaga in the Milne Bay Province, Anne was born on 15 May 1950, the fourth child of five children to Osineru and Doreen Dickson.

From humble beginnings as a six-year-old school girl at Kwato Mission, Anne continued at Port Moresby High School and later attained a Diploma in Secondary Teaching at Goroka Teachers College.

From 1971 to 1973 she taught at Kilakila High School, during this time marrying John Kaniku, also a teacher, and had two sons.

Juggling motherhood and work, in 1974 Anne joined the University of Papua New Guinea as a professional assistant in social science at the Teaching Methods Centre. Concurrently, she studied part time for a Bachelor of Arts, graduating with first class honours.

From 1978 to 1981, Anne undertook further study in the USA but, with the joy of having a third son came sadness, tragedy struck and she lost her first-born son. These years in the USA were difficult for Anne and her family but she completed her Masters in Political Science at the University of Mississippi in 1981.

In 1986, she had a daughter with John Kaniku but their marriage dissolved soon after. By 1987, Anne was undertaking PhD studies at the Australian National University in Canberra and was awarded her doctorate in 1993.

During this time, she remarried Professor John Waiko and had another son in Canberra. As Professor Waiko was based in Port Moresby, she left her young son with him while she completed field work in the Philippines.

Anne was a dedicated academic and worked extremely hard until she fell ill in September 2018. UPNG’s Professor Peter Yearwood described her as a valuable and dedicated lecturer. As a student at UPNG, I enjoyed her classes on PNG gender issues, colonialism and nation building, and South East Asian history.

As an academic, researcher and advocate for gender equality in PNG, she focused much on history and gender studies. UPNG recognised her as an internationally significant scholar who between 2005-2015 wrote seven articles or chapters in refereed journals and books.

Anne was also a consultant, advisor and facilitator for a number of gender related projects which she engaged in with government, non-government and international organisations and donors. Her most significant contribution to women’s improvement in PNG was her involvement in the Review of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level government led by Ben Micah in 1995 with other women academics and leaders.

Her involvement looked at incorporating women’s representation in both the provincial and local level government particularly in having nominated seats for women. This was approved by the national parliament and made effective in 1997.

It was a turning point for women in politics as it allowed women to participate and be heard at the provincial and local levels of government. I hope that this revelation will be made known to many PNG girls and women so that we are grateful for women who paved the way for our voices to be heard.

Remarkably, Anne spent 45 years at UPNG, most of her career, and over the years she imparted her knowledge to contributing to the development of PNG, particularly to the female population. In 2016, Anne, pioneered PNG’s first gender studies program and was commissioned by the National Research Institute to carry out a scoping study which informed the research themes of the gender program.

A colleague described Anne as a passionate woman who supported gender equality through her work, teaching and research.

You dedicated your life to improve the lives of the masses.
Sacrifices made, and hurdles jumped.
Yet strived to put a smile on another’s face.
With a humble heart and a sweet smile, you still persevered.
Gratitude is all that can be offered at this time
But your legacy will remain.
Smile and know that it will get better.

The Gender in PNG Research of the PNG National Research Institute program acknowledges Ms Marjorie Andrew for allowing us to use the late Dr Anne Dickson-Waiko’s eulogy in writing this tribute and Associate Professor Peter Yearwood, Head of the History, Gender Studies and Philosophy Strand, for the short tribute you sent to be included in this obituary


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Kelly Zachary

What a woman! My sincere condolences to all of friends and family.

Reading about her life, she certainly put herself out there in helping others and educating others on equality for all.

Interestingly true Christianity also does and should promote equality for all. Galatians 3:26-28 "for all of you were baptized into Christ...There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus".

And grieving family can look forward to the time when there will be no more tears, death or pain (Revelation 21:3,4). For God longs for the day when he can bring back your loved ones i the resurrection. (Job 14:13-15, John 5:28, 29)

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