Can PNG avoid becoming a failed state?
Communities only answer to PNG failures

Poet Sarah aims to empower PNG women

Sarah Kaut-Nasengom (Western Michigan University)
Sarah Kaut-Nasengom (Western Michigan University)


NOOSA – The talented Papua New Guinean researcher and poet Sarah Kaut-Nasengom has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to further her studies into women in politics.

The scholarship will enable Sarah to study for a Master of Arts in political science, focusing on women in politics, at Western Michigan University in the USA.

Papua New Guinea has a notoriously poor record of voting for women in national elections.

There have been only seven women elected to parliament in the 46 years since PNG became independent in 1975.

At the last national election in 2017, of about 3,000 candidates just 165 (5%) were women and none was elected to the 111-seat parliament.

So, while women are often called upon to keep families and communities together amidst continuing social turmoil, successive PNG governments have failed to effectively overturn the blatant discrimination that mostly keeps women out of public office.

To add considerably to this hurt, PNG’s women are also amongst the most abused and violated in the world.

SarahSarah Kaut-Nasengom, one of six Papua New Guineans just awarded scholarships to study in the US, was until recently a research officer with the National Research Institute where she specialised in women in leadership, gender related issues and public policy.

Last August the Institute published her paper on the impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities, in which she wrote about Covid’s likely effects on people’s access to correct information, food security and health related issues.

Sarah also outlined strategies the government might use to include people with disabilities in its Covid planning and how the spread of the disease amongst these people could be minimised.

“The needs of people with disabilities cannot be clustered together and [they cannot] be addressed as one group,” she wrote.

“This is because different impairments or form of disability require different types of interventions, resources and services.”

In addition to her professional life, Sarah is also a talented poet and PNG Attitude published her poem, In A World of Fists, in April 2019.

Sarah’s website, My Thought Speaks, offers 18 pieces of writing, mainly poetry, on a range of topics including self-worth, violence, multiracialism, patriotism, relationships and the character of Sir Michael Somare.

She wrote of a chance encounter with the great Papua New Guinean leader:

“You were a loyal husband to your one and only wife, Lady Veronica, and a great father, grandfather and great grandfather.

“I remember going to one of the shopping malls in the big city (Port Moresby) a few years ago and seeing you assisting your wife who was sick during that time.

“That moment was priceless, I could see the respect and love you showed to her, it was the ultimate gift. Something that I haven’t seen in so many of our leaders these days.”

Sarah has written elsewhere, “We take so many things for granted being Papua New Guineans, including our diverse culture. Why? I am beginning to understand what it should mean to be a real patriot of the beautiful evergreen country we call home.”

We wish Sarah well in her American experience and hope she will return to Papua New Guinea and, along with the many others working towards the same goal, make it a place worthy of the wonderful women who do so much to hold it together.

Hold onto my hands


HoldHold onto my hands and don’t let go
Black or white, I dreamt of no prejudice
The world maybe unkind out there but I’m not leaving you
Hold onto my hands and don’t let go
Yellow or brown, I dreamt of no injustice
The world will be better if we face it together
Hold onto my hands and don’t let go
Black or white, I see no colour of choice
Like an old black and white photograph
My weaknesses are your strengths
Like day and night, they are still one
And so I’ll hold onto your hands too
No storm can ever take away the sun
So shall my hands that refuse to leave yours
We are the same remarkable beauty of life.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bernard Corden

"Artists are the gatekeepers of truth" - Paul Robeson

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)