Women's writing Feed

Michele Rooney short-listed for book award

Michelle Rooney
Michelle Rooney's mother, Nahau, spearheaded the role of women in PNG politics - a tough task at the best of times


MELBOURNE – Michelle Nayahamui Rooney – a dual Papua New Guinea-Australia citizen of Manus heritage – is one of 10 shortlisted writers in contention for the 2022 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

The annual award is given by Writers Victoria to an Australian writer for a proposed work of biography.

Dr Rooney is a research fellow at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, a unit that researches and analyses Australian aid and global development with a focus on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

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Women journalists win media awards

Russell top
Russell Hunter - a fearless and ethical journalist who always had time to mentor and train younger members of the profession


NORTHCOTE, VIC - Women reporters with the National Broadcasting Corporation and EMTV have won the Russell Hunter Awards for Young Papua New Guinea Journalists of the Year.

When Scottish-Australian journalist Russell Hunter – who was living in Brisbane - died in July, a group of friends decided that the most appropriate way to memorialise him was through sponsoring an award for young journalists in PNG.

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Waka Poet Faumuina meets Blunt Bugger Dom

| Ples Singsing

Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i
Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i

My Grandfather is a Canoe by Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna'i, July 2021, Flying Geese Pro. Order here for $36.52 (post included)

LAE – Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i’s first poems appeared in print in ‘Fika – a fictional body of new writing by First Draft Pasefika Writers’ (2008), under the banner of Pacific Arts Creative New Zealand.

Faumuina’s poetry later featured in dried grass over rough-cut logs’, my own collection of 2020, published by the late PNG publisher, poet and essayist, Francis Nii.

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Women in politics: Dare to challenge

Ingrid Jackson
Ingrid Jackson on women in politics: "Stay true to your values. Be accessible to the community. Muster your courage. Remain gracious and empathetic"


NOOSA - At an International Women’s Day luncheon in Noosa last month, I spoke along with seven other women on the topic of ‘Dare to Challenge’, drawing on my recent experiences as the only woman councillor on the Noosa Council in south-east Queensland.

Newly elected in 2016 after a long career as a manager and consultant, I had expectations of a pleasant experience in local government and felt well prepared for the role.

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Dominica Are & her Prized Possessions

Dominica’s book 'Prized Possessions'HAZEL KUTKUE
| Sipikriva Girl Blog | Photographs by Dominica Are

'Prized Possessions: A Collection of Poetry’by Dominica Are, paperback, 132 pages. Independently published, March 2020. ISBN-13 979-8622956454. Available here from Amazon for $US8.73

BRAUN - Poetry makes for beautiful literature.

Sipikriva Girl, despite not entirely embracing poetry, had the opportunity to speak to 34-year old writer, poet and accountant, Dominica Are, who recently published her first collection of poetry, Prized Possessions.

Hailing from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Dominica works full time as an accountant with PNG Coffee Exports Ltd in Goroka.

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Viewing life with love, courage & hope

Evah and sarah
Evah and Sarah


Hi olgeta, this is an excerpt from my unpublished book. I am seeking sponsors to help me publish the book and spread the message about children with special needs. If you or know anyone who can assist me, please let me know - EK

I’m trying to find Evah’s email. If you can help, let me know in the Comment section - KJ

MADANG - When everything is going well and then suddenly life decides to take its toll on you, you lose your footing, your mind and all hell breaks loose.

The worst is the pain a mother feels seeing her own child succumb to illness and suffer.

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Standing up & starting small

Caroline Evari and students from Caritas Elementary school in Port Moresby
Caroline Evari with students from Caritas Elementary school in Port Moresby


PORT MORESBY - It is almost a year now since I started the campaign to promote writing and publishing in Papua New Guinea - also advocating the need to write our own stories as Papua New Guineans.

As I reflect on this journey so far, my memory settles particularly on the preparations leading to a trip I took to Oro Province in late October last year.

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My journey as a writer – Part I

Caroline Evari
Caroline Evari discusses her writing with children at the Koro International School last week


PORT MORESBY - Not knowing where my journey in writing would take me, I kept brushing away the idea of getting my long overdue collection of poems published. One reason: Fear.

Fear that people may not like my poems. Fear that I may not have the money to pay for publication. Fear of what other people would say about me.

I had a colleague who discovered my talent in writing and introduced me to the Crocodile Prize literary competition in 2013.  The journey from then gave me a whole new perception.

When I realised that people liked my writing, I became so determined to improve.

As I told in my recent interview with Betty Wakia, ‘Choose to rise above every circumstance,’ I tried networking with other writers.

It wasn’t easy because I had a demanding job, but I made every opportunity count. I wrote for websites, blogs, participated in writing prompts and created my own blog.

Continue reading "My journey as a writer – Part I" »

In her destiny to achieve: The long journey of Alphonse Huvi

Alphonse Huvi (r) donates her anthology to the Unity Library in Buka
Alphonse Huvi (right) donates her precious Devare High School Anthology to a staff member of the Unity Library in Buka


BRISBANE & PORT MORESBY - A recent collaborative article by Keith Jackson and  Rashmii Bell celebrated a number of Papua New Guinean women considered influential in terms of the theme of 2019 International Women’s Day, ‘Think smart, build smart, innovate for change’.

The eleven women profiled impressed an audience of more than 4,000 people and generated wide interest and hopefully admiration for the efforts of these women.

Shortly after the article appeared, I received an email from a Lae-based women’s collective enquiring about the process of compiling and publishing an anthology.

I referred the budding authors to PNG Attitude, my own extensively documented experience with ‘My Walk to Equality’ and Francis Nii’s discussion about publishing as a Papua New Guinean author.

I also encouraged them to engage with the newly-launched Crocodile Prize 2019.

After further thought, I also saw this as an opportunity to learn more about a project undertaken by one of the eleven women profiled, Alphonse Huvi, who had my genuine admiration as a literary innovator. Alphonse had just successfully published the Devare Adventist High School Anthology.

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12 women who 'think equal, build smart & innovate for change'


BRISBANE - Readers might have believed that when PNG Attitude’s publisher and editor proclaimed post-surgery, “Now time to get this old cart back on the road”, the words were reflective rather than prescriptive. Nope.

Whereas 10 minutes helping my son with Year 5 long division means immediate, uninterrupted and unspecified rest on the sofa, PNG Attitude’s recovery from five-time spinal surgery means returning to his keyboard and the company of thousands of readers around the globe.

I guess individuals like Keith Jackson are wired differently.

A few short hours after his release from hospital, I received an email from Jackson who explained that, while he was late to International Women’s Day 2019, PNG Attitude still ought to mark the occasion by recognising the women of Papua New Guinea.

I was invited to nominate a handful of women and briefly explain why.

The International Women’s Day clarion call of ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’ signalled the task for the year ahead.

Innovating to remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality. Encouraging investment to develop gender-responsive social systems. Building services and infrastructure to meet the needs of women and girls.

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A 'crazy' blueprint for a sustained literary project in PNG

Rashmii Amoah Bell - literary innovator


“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,
If we want to play against men, we’re nuts
And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional.
When we stand for something, we’re unhinged.
When we’re too good there’s something wrong with us.
And if we get angry, we’re hysterical or irrational or just being crazy.
So if they want to call you crazy? Fine. Show them what crazy can do.”
(Tennis icon Serena Williams as narrator in ‘Dream Crazier’, Nike commercial ad)

BRISBANE – Each month Philip Fitzpatrick releases figures on book sales to all authors with titles under his Pukpuk Publications imprint.

And each month ‘My Walk to Equality’, first published to coincide with International Women’s Day two years ago, registers a few more sales.

Social media coverage has been instrumental in marketing the book and keeping it in front of readers. On a recent Saturday morning an email from individual in Canada informed me excitedly that her copy had just arrived in the post.

The modest royalties received from the sale of these books remain with Pukpuk Publications and are used to support the publication and distribution of titles by other PNG authors.

The walk to equality is a continuing journey.

Continue reading "A 'crazy' blueprint for a sustained literary project in PNG" »

Two years on: reviewing the anthology, ‘My Walk to Equality’

My-walk-to-equalityTANYA ZERIGA-ALONE | Em Nau PNG’s Blog

PORT MORESBY - The theme for the 2017 International Women’s Day was ‘Be Bold for Change’.

The launching of the anthology, ‘My Walk to Equality’, on that day was a bold step toward putting the spotlight on women’s issues  in Papua New Guinea.

The anthology is a 280-page book containing 84 entries from 40 women writers – both established and emerging. The stories, poems and essays contain accounts by women striving to create a better and stronger PNG for women. Their words are immortalised in this book.

With brutal honesty, the women tell their stories. They give their solutions and ask pertinent questions to probe further thinking that requires honesty and humility.

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Thanks to colleagues & benefactors, a literary immersion


BRISBANE - In October 2017, Keith Jackson AM enquired whether I would be interested in attending the Women In Media Conference and, if so, he would sponsor my attendance at the two-day event at Bond University on the Gold Coast.

Without any journalism or media training, I wavered as to my suitability of being seated in the same room as a bunch of over-achieving women in the context of the high-powered organisations headlining the event.

Yet, being closely mentored by Jackson throughout the pilot phase of the ‘My Walk to Equality’ project through preparing media releases and participating in print and radio interviews, I accepted the opportunity he was championing for me.

It would stand as a serendipitous moment in the convergence of literary activities I undertook in 2018.

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Marlene Potoura & the state of society & writing in PNG

Rashmii & KeithRASHMII BELL talks with KEITH JACKSON

BRISBANE - I was saddened to read of the recent robbery of Marlene Potoura’s possessions at her home in Lae.

This incident was just the latest of a series of burglaries – and worse - going back some years, which have placed Marlene and her children in heartbreaking circumstances.

Yet in my online interactions with Marlene, she is by no measure a victim but always future-oriented, persevering to find an effective solution as issues arise.

These personal traits encapsulate how and why Marlene is like many of those people who make up the PNG Attitude virtual family. 

Being invited to connect with Marlene was to share her lived experience as a Papua New Guinean women living in present day PNG society. It is a privilege I do not take for granted. It takes courage to put your experiences and feelings into writing when challenges become overwhelming.

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PNG literature – starved of solid support; sustained by zeal

The PNG Attitude story by Phil Fitzpatrick  published in 2016
Phil Fitzpatrick's 2016 book told of the struggles, which still continue, to establish a viable PNG literature


BRISBANE - On a clear, mid-September afternoon in 2017, four women - heels clicking and voices chattering excitedly - hurry across an aerial walkway connecting two of the city’s cultural hubs.

They are behind schedule and the urgent hum of traffic serves to spur an even faster pace and longer strides. They hustle down a staircase and enter the cool of the performing arts centre courtyard beyond the unremitting glare of the Queensland sun.

There, in a far corner of this place, they spot familiar faces seated around two large alfresco dining tables that have been pushed together. A celebratory lunch is already underway and cheerful smiles and shouts greet the approaching quartet.

From the four women, whose pace has now slowed to a stagger, invisible jetstreams of exhaustion and exuberance sweep out, hover, then float into a seemingly limitless sky. They have just completed their task as panellists at the first ever session on PNG women's literature at the Brisbane Literary Festival. 

A panel not of academicians on PNG literature, but of representative of the 45 women who have created an important part of it. A collective act of creativity and truth-telling in book form that has never happened in this way before and, because it is the first, can never happen in this way again.

The group the women are now plunging into are mismatched: men, women, whatever, starched collars, tee-shirts,  A-line frocks, weekend slacks, shorts (in Keith's case daggy, he crops the photos to make them appear acceptable).

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The envy that seeks to destroy the progress of women in PNG


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.

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PNG’s informal women’s network of human rights defenders

Mary Kini and Rashmii Bell
Mary Kini and Rashmii Bell - undaunted by the barriers, women striking out in the interests of all women


BRISBANE – In her essay ‘Cross-border conversations: the networks women create’, Urvashi Butalia reflects on the landscape of women’s networks.

Published in ‘Griffith Review 59: Commonwealth Now’, the essay centres on women’s volunteerism, solidarity, sharing and organisation through a template formulated in Lahore, India, and since, duplicated a hundredfold globally in various forms.

Urvashi Butalia, the founder of India’s first feminist publishing house, describes how in early 2000 a group of Pakistani women travelled across the border to visit a group of their Indian counterparts.

The journey was undertaken in a spirit of friendship and conflict-resolution and its mission was to discuss how they might resolve key issues in their present-day cross-border conflict – a continuing crisis the women identified as fuelled by a complex history and a legacy of colonialism.

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On writing, PNG literature & the voice of the diaspora

Rashmii Bell & Tess Newton Cain
Rashmii Bell and Tess Newton Cain


BRISBANE - I recently caught up with Rashmii Bell over lunch in Brisbane, and asked about her background and experiences as an author. I began by asking Rashmii to tell me about her background, and what she is currently involved in.

Rashmii hails from Sio, Morobe Province, in Papua New Guinea, having being born and lived in Lae, as well as Port Moresby and (presently) Brisbane.

She was educated in Australia, and has lived between there and PNG since 1990. She studied at Griffith University, obtaining a degree in psychology and criminology and she has more than 10 years of experience working in case management within adult and youth corrections services.

And now?

RASHMII - "I’m a little past nine years while I’ve been at home. I’ve just been raising children. But, I’ve always enjoyed reading. I read everything, read every day. And writing, I have been writing for myself, but I only just started having my work published in the past three years…"

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A lit fuse – but uncertain whether it'll be fireworks or a damp squib

Rashmii Bell
Rashmii Bell


BRISBANE - Emma Wakpi’s recent commentary, ‘Foreign aid didn’t work. Then we started to look at tradition’, gave cause for PNG Attitude readers to reflect on the effectiveness of aid in Papua New Guinea’s nation building.

The subsequent discussion stoked an audience question I posed to a literary panel last week which I attended as part of a six-month My Walk to Equality writer’s fellowship generously sponsored by Paga Hill Development Company.

The panel, part of an event at the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art, was a collaboration between Griffith University’s Asia Institute and Griffith Review journal and was billed as a conversation between Jane Camens, Annie Zaidi and Salil Tripathi.

Jane Camens is co-editor of Griffith Review and founder of Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Inc, a regional network of authors and literary translators.

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The Papua New Guinean voice is as important as any other voice

Author Samantha Kusari - Papua New Guinean writing can stand proudly on the world stage

This message from the ‘My Walk to Equality’ project team was presented by SAMANTHA KUSARI to the students of Paradise College, Port Moresby, to mark their annual writing awards ceremony

PORT MORESBY - Congratulations to all students for participating in the writing competition. It is so wonderful to hear from your staff member Samantha Kusari of this annual literary activity encouraged by your school.

Ms Kusari is a published Papua New Guinean author and you are quite so fortunate to have her literary talent so close by.

The 'My Walk to Equality' project team is a voluntary group of 45 Papua New Guinean women writers (including Ms Kusari) supported by two gentlemen who have spent over 12 years encouraging, publishing and distributing PNG-authored books.

They are Keith Jackson AM and Philip Fitzpatrick, co-founders of Papua New Guinea's annual national literary competition, the Crocodile Prize.

We have a vision of using literature to include the voices of Papua New Guinean women in the national conversation about all social issues.

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Paga Hill fellowship may herald a PNG literary festival

Gudmundur Fridriksson
Gummi Fridriksson - a prominent supporter of the development of a modern literary culture in PNG


NOOSA - A year after the publication of ‘My Walk to Equality’, Papua New Guinea’s first-ever collection of essays, stories and poetry written entirely by women, the Paga Hill Development Company has awarded a writers’ fellowship to the book’s editor, Rashmii Bell.

The inaugural award was made to mark International Women’s Day by the company’s chief executive, Gudmundur (Gummi) Fridriksson, a prominent supporter of PNG literature.

The six-month fellowship will enable Ms Bell to attend literary events in Australia and continue to engage with authors, readers and festival committees to promote PNG women writers, PNG literature and explore opportunities to stage a literary event in PNG later this year.

“The MWTE team is grateful for Paga Hill Development Company’s ongoing recognition and support for our voluntary literary project,” Ms Bell said.

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PNG govt alert! Our literature could help us get to Vision 50

Daniel with author Mary Mennis
Daniel compares books with Australian author Mary Mennis


WABAG - An assignment given to first year trainees at Enga Teachers College on literature and its importance for primary school children, prompts me to reflect on a recent literary tour of Australia I undertook with three colleagues.

I wondered if teachers in the field were promoting literature. Did they have access to libraries stocked with books appropriate to their readers?

The Papua New Guinea government is spending millions of kina on its tuition free education policy each year.

It also supports sports, music and other major events. It has built modern stadiums, training facilities and provided cash incentives for athletes who win gold medals at Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

The PNG Hunters have lifted rugby league’s profile on the international stage through the Queensland Intrust Super Cup competition.  Many players have signed lucrative contracts.

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‘My Walk to Equality’: One year down. What next?

Paradise-Mag-ScreenshotRASHMII BELL

BRISBANE - Today is the one year anniversary of Pukpuk Publication’s release of My Walk to Equality, Papua New Guinea’s milestone volume of essays, short story and poetry written entirely by PNG women.

The book was made available on Amazon on 10 January 2017, launched a couple of months later on International Women’s Day in March and proved to be a great success.

After a short break, the small project team has resumed planning to put in motion the next steps to address the issues raised by MWTE.

Already, expressions of interest have been submitted to showcase MWTE at several Australian inter-state literary festivals in 2018. These include major events in Sydney and Melbourne.

It is intended that a number of Papua New Guinean-based MWTE writers participate, an experience previously enjoyed by fellow writers Francis Nii, Martyn Namorong and Daniel Kumbon in 2016 and Vanessa Gordon, Elvina Ogil, Helen Anderson and Tania Basiou in 2017. I had the privilege of participating in both years.

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Privilege, tokenism & acknowledgement: a cautionary tale


BRISBANE - Lola Olufemi, women’s officer of Cambridge University’s student union, was amongst a group of students who recently, co-signed an open letter to the university’s English Department criticising a prescribed reading list dominated by white male authors.

The letter requested the ‘decolonisation’ of the English literature syllabus by giving the same moral and intellectual consideration to include black, minority and ethnic authors.

The London Telegraph gave front-page coverage to the letter, singling out Lola Olufemi’s photograph from amongst the collective petitioners and reframing the story to suit the newspaper’s right wing agenda.

As a result of the press coverage, Ms Olufemi endured a torrent of racist and gendered abuse.

Co-signatory, student Isadora Dooley Hunter, said, “People react negatively because it makes them feel uncomfortable but you need to make people feel uncomfortable for them to address their privilege.”

Privilege - a notion so universal, and discussed and debated at the turn of each second.

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Lessons from the Gold Coast women in media conference

Rashmii writer IDRASHMII BELL

BRISBANE - If you had ventured into the Twittersphere this past weekend, you would have noticed that the hashtag #wimconf17 was periodically trending as the most discussed topic in Australia.

If you had followed hashtag #png you would have noted that Papua New Guinea’s presence at the Women in Media Conference 2017 at Bond University on the Gold Coast was embodied by me.

It was an impressive event delivered on a shoe-string budget. Its reliance on generous sponsors and supporter endorsement, and the operations of the two-day event, were reminiscent of the My Walk to Equality project.

Event organisers including Tracey Spicer and Kay McGrath OAM did not shy away from publicising their gratitude to generous donors: the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Bond University, Flight Centre, The Star Gold Coast, Industry Superannuation Funds along with the ABC, Seven West Media, Nine and News Corp Australia all with the support of the Queensland government.

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The year of MWTE – the story of a successful project

Rashmii at the book launch
Rashmii Bell launches 'My Walk to Equality' in Brisbane, March 2017


Download the 'My Walk to Equality' Project Report here

BRISBANE - In September of 2016, a group of Papua New Guinean writers was invited to participate in a panel event at the Brisbane Writers Festival facilitated by the Paga Hill-McKinnon Fellowship, an initiative of PNG Attitude.

Three male writers and I presented an overview of the current state and directions of Papua New Guinean literature.

As we did so, audience members highlighted the potential of nation-driven literature to provide authentic insights and widening the lens through which PNG is viewed internationally.

Particular reference was made to indigenous writer telling more of the nation’s ‘positive stories’, especially by women

It has been the common trend that international media report stories from PNG that centre around issues of governance, infrastructure and societal breakdown coupled with the ongoing reliance on foreign intervention to address problems.

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The issues stifling PNG literature: shame, division & segregation


Not being believed (Hanna Barczyk)
Hanna Barczyk illustration for Amber Tamblyn’s, ‘I’m Done With Not Being Believed’, New York Times, 16 September 2017

BRISBANE – “Hilary Clinton is finally expressing some righteous anger: Why does that make everyone else so mad?” is the title of an op-ed piece capturing the often hostile reaction to the recent release of Hilary Clinton’s post-election memoir ‘What Happened’.

The article’s author, Rebecca Traister, opens by referring to Clinton’s speech to the 2017 graduating class of Wellesley College, the Massachusetts liberal arts college for women established in 1870 and Clinton’s alma mater.

Wellesley was also the setting of the 2003 film, ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, in which a star-studded cast of Hollywood’s leading women deliver an important message about the life choices women should have the right to determine irrespective of peer, family and societal pressures.

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On opportunity, creativity, reciprocity & equity for PNG women


BRISBANE - I’m always thankful for an opportunity.

'Opportunity - a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.'

I particularly cherish and admire individuals who create opportunities to promote the writing and reading of Papua New Guinea-authored literature.

For example Bob Cleland, Michael Dom, Dr Genevieve Nelson, Ed Brumby and PNG journalists Leiao Gerega and Ogia Miamel. And of course there is the ever-supportive duo of Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick, as well my mentors Joan and Murray Bladwell.

In 2015, following an initiative taken by Bob Cleland to meet the organisers of Brisbane Writers Festival, a small PNG-focused group convened over lunch in Brisbane to discuss the opportunity it presented.

The group comprised Bob, Jimmy Drekore, Joycelin Leahy, Murray Bladwell, Rob Parer and Keith Jackson and the goal was to establish a pathway for PNG writers to participate in this internationally renowned literary gathering.

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First Port Moresby writers conference was a real success

The panel
John Kasaipwalova, Baka Bina, Alphonse Huvi, Caroline Evari, Emmanuel Peni


PORT MORESBY - A group of about 30 people gathered at World Bank Information on Friday 8 September to participate in the first ever writers conference spearheaded by My Walk to Equality contributing writers Loretta Bele, Alu Ravusiro, Leila Parina, Alphonse Huvi and Caroline Evari with the theme ‘Be Inspired to Write’.

The aim of the conference was to celebrate the success of the book and to use it as an means whereby writers, editors, publishers and like-minded individuals could collaborate.

The event included a panel discussion on relevant topics, experiences and challenges faced by writers; men’s involvement in literature and the need for collaboration; how writing can be used as a platform for addressing issues such as violence, women and youth empowerment, politics, etc. and; what the Port Moresby based MWTE writers would want to see emerging from the books success.

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Women writers in Brisbane: expansive, informed & entertaining

The book signing (Stefan Armbruster)
Tania, Vanessa, Rasmmii & Elvina at the book signing - a marvellous group of women (photo Stefan Armbruster)


BRISBANE – The presentation by Papua New Guinean women writers’ to a packed auditorium at the Brisbane Writers Festival yesterday was a great success on the back of a great achievement.

Even after the session had begun, a queue of 20 people – including well known PNG Attitude personalities Murray Bladwell, Ed Brumby and Lindsay Bond – were being shunted back and forth by bemused attendants until finally the doors were flung open again.

As the event got into full stride, with Rashmii Bell expertly chairing the session, her three colleagues illustrator and photographer Tania Basiou, lawyer Elvina Ogil and poet and film-maker Vanessa Gordon provided an engaged audience with a brisk and candid walk through some of the big issues facing PNG women today.

A large part of this audience was new to PNG affairs and an audible gasp ran around the room when people learned that, at the recent national poll, the people of PNG had managed not to elect even one woman to sit in the 111-member parliament.

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Ensuring women’s voices are heard to address PNG’s problems

Rashmii at the book launch
The launch of the anthology in Brisbane earlier this year


Tomorrow, at the Brisbane Writers Festival, before a sell-out audience, a panel of Papua New Guinean women writers will discuss the landmark anthology, My Walk to Equality, its impacts and repercussions. To mark this occasion, we reproduce here extracts from a presentation Rashmii Bell made to the recent Sunshine Coast Writers Festival.

COOLUM – My Walk to Equality is a collaboration of 45 women writers from Papua New Guinea, the first all-women’s anthology to be produced from our country.

Since being published its 7,000 print run has been distributed widely throughout PNG, Australia, the Pacific Islands and other parts of the world including the US and UK.

One of PNG’s foremost journalists Scott Waide recently wrote about the excess of stories highlighting violence against Papua New Guinean women and the millions in foreign aid being poured into the country to address this pandemic: the emphasis always on the problem rather than solutions.

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Publishing is many things (& don’t forget the power of promotion)

Vanessa Gordon models Tania Basiou's MWTE t-shirtPHIL FITZPATRICK

Want to buy your own MWTE tee-shirt? You can do that here

TUMBY BAY - Pukpuk Publication’s highest circulating book by a longshot has been My Walk to Equality, edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell.

I emphasise ’circulating’ because the bulk of MWTE’s distribution has been not through over the counter sales but through free circulation.

This was made possible through the generosity of many sponsors, especially the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea which alone provided funding for 5,000 books to be distributed free of charge.

But lining up sponsors for this book – which now has distributed about 7,000 copies - was never going to be enough to make it successful.

My Walk to Equality also required solid, well edited content – and energetic promotion.

Continue reading "Publishing is many things (& don’t forget the power of promotion)" »

Development goals, peace & getting PNG women into parliament


BRISBANE - In September 2015, the international aid community met in New York to acknowledge and adopt a follow up to the United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs) under the new badge of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

There was much talk about the over-ambitious imposition on developing nations to achieve the 17 millennium goals over the previous 15 years.

Certainly this might have been Papua New Guinea’s view after its dismal attempt to achieve these goals – none out of 17.

One thing that struck me about the new SDGs was the emphasis that ‘peace’ within a nation is the binding factor if any of them is to be achieved.

So, between 2015 and 2030, that’s a major challenge.

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Gender equality in PNG: What a dispiriting conversation


THE conversation around the reservation of seats for women in PNG and gender equality more broadly has been most dispiriting.

Men – and, equally disappointingly, women - have been vehement in their opposition to the proposed reservation of seats, instead calling for election on merit.

Meritorious election presumes an equal playing field. It is glaringly obvious that the playing field is not equal in Papua New Guinea, both in parliament and outside it.

Even more disappointing is this prevailing view espoused by Jordan Dean and others that women "don't need equality - they need self-recognition”.

Unpacking such statements is almost a waste of our time and effort: at best, it is a vacuous throwaway line and, at worst, a subliminal statement of misogyny.

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The fragile men of PNG who cannot tolerate women’s success


When Keith Jackson and I set up the Crocodile Prize in 2010, we thought it was necessary to have a special category for women's writing.

It didn’t take long for us to abandon this idea when it became abundantly clear that Papua New Guinea had many talented female writers.

In subsequent years, plenty of awards were carried off by women - it was close to a 50-50 split between male and female writers.

We believed this was a matter to be celebrated. And we understood that this success opened up a significant avenue to promote the cause of gender equality.

It was this kind of thinking that eventually led to the publication of the first anthology of PNG women's writing, 'My Walk to Equality', under the astute editorship of Rashmii Amoah Bell.

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Could the roiling disaster of PNG stomach a woman’s touch?

PNG panel at Sunshine Coast writers festivalPHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - I’m back in my quiet little corner of South Australia after spending a couple of weeks meandering through the hustle and bustle of Queensland’s south-east coast.

There was a burst of unseasonal hot weather up there, so stepping off the plane in Adelaide on the way home was a bit like jumping into a freezer. But I think I’ll survive.

In Queensland I attended the successful Papua New Guinean women writer’s event at Coolum Beach and learned a lot about the travails of being a woman in PNG, especially those women who produce ground-breaking anthologies of women’s writing. (Some of those women are on stage with me in the accompanying photograph.)

To say that the anthology My Walk to Equality has been both a great success and a tremendous burden for the women involved is an understatement.

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PNG women shine at Sunshine Coast literary festival

Sunshine Coast festivalPHIL FITZPATRICK

I’VE just left the Sunshine Coast international readers and writers festival at Coolum Beach and am still reeling from the experience of sitting on a panel with three of the most intelligent and articulate women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long time.

To put it mildly they did Papua New Guinean women and Papua New Guinean literature proud – I can’t think of any better ambassadors.

Rashmii Bell was cool and collected, chairing our session.  Helen Anderson, a sage commentator, and present despite a dodgy hip.  And the delightful and funny Vanessa Gordon.

In the mainly female audience were other Papua New Guinean women offering support.

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‘Walk to Equality’ story continues at Oz literary festivals

My Walk to Equality CoverRASHMII BELL

THE milestone anthology by Papua New Guinean women writers, My Walk to Equality, will be showcased at two international literary festivals in Queensland in the next two months.

The book will be discussed in special panel sessions at the Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival in Coolum on 11 August and at the Brisbane Writers Festival on 8 and 10 September.

The book of evocative essays, short stories and poems was written by 45 Papua New Guinean and published by Pukpuk Publications to coincide with International Women’s Day this year.

It was launched at companion events were held in Port Moresby and Brisbane and has since become a landmark publication.

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PNG writers to share views & struggles at writers festival

Rashmii BellSTAFF REPORTER | Sunshine Coast Daily

FOR the first time in publishing history, female writers from Papua New Guinea have had their voices heard about their daily struggles in life with the compilation of the women's anthology, My Walk to Equality.

This evocative anthology will have its Sunshine Coast launch at a panel presentation at the second annual Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival on Saturday 12 August in Coolum Civic Centre.

The evocative anthology is a collection of more than 40 essays, short stories and poems which capture the daily challenges faced and positive contribution made by the women of PNG to improve community and nation.

The anthology was edited by PNG writer Rashmii Amoah Bell (pictured) and published by PNG's Pukpuk Publications.

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Popular anthology takes people inside PNG women’s reality

My_Walk_to_Equality_promotional_pic_from_PNG_AttitudeSELA AHOLELEI | Radio New Zealand International

A CONTRIBUTOR to a Papua New Guinea book about women's equality says it's important that it reach more hands.

The anthology 'My Walk to Equality' is published by Pukpuk Publications and edited by Rashmii Amoah Bell and was released in March. The Australian High Commissioner in PNG distributed 2,000 copies to schools and organisations and 3,000 other copies have been distributed free of charge.

Contributor Alurigo Ravusiro said that in a culturally diverse population like PNG, stories of how women deal with social issues deserve a wider audience.

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The day the hope of ‘My Walk to Equality’ shone over Brisbane

Rashmii at the book launchRASHMII BELL

After its Port Moresby launch in the preceding week, the first-ever collection of writing by Papua New Guinean women’s was launched in Brisbane on 16 March 2017

Just a small town girl
Living in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere…

PNG Attitude readers who’ve followed my writing for a while will know my unabashed affection for the eighties pop hit to which that stanza belongs.

In fact, I have previously dedicated some 700 words to describing how its unfiltered presence in my childhood evolved into becoming the backdrop of my children's early years.

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Interview: PNG women’s anthology looks beyond the myths

Elvina OgilJOHNNY BLADES | Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand International

A new anthology of literature by Papua New Guinea women is challenging the traditional attribution of women's successes to a male reference point. My Walk to Equality was launched this month in PNG and Australia, a milestone publication of poetry, fiction and essays written by 45 PNG women. One of the contributors to the anthology is Elvina Ogil, an Australia-based lawyer and writer who hails from PNG's Mt Hagen. Ms Ogil's foreword to the book argues that PNG as a nation should embrace both literature and the notion of gender equality.

ELVINA OGIL: I don't want to overstate it but I think it's a bit of a landmark publication. First of its kind of indigenous women contributing to literature.

It was open to women across the country, Papua New Guinean women. And 45 women took up that opportunity to contribute. So the breadth of stories in there is quite impressive.

JOHNNY BLADES: And you've got women from a range of ages and vocations, yeah?

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For PNG women a beautiful thought becomes an iconic work

Keith at Brisbane book launchKEITH JACKSON

Here's my talk from last night's Brisbane launch of My Walk to Equality, organised superbly by Murray Bladwell and attended by a standing room only crowd who purchased every available book. So it was two great launches in Port Moresby and Australia for this wonderful first collection of writing by Papua New Guinean women

THE PNG Attitude blog began in 2006 as a small-scale effort to connect people who had attended the Australian School of Pacific Administration, ASOPA.

The full story of the blog can be found in Phil Fitzpatrick’s entertaining book, ‘Fighting for a Voice (Pukpuk Publications, 2016), which you can download for free. 

ASOPA was a training place for kiaps, teachers and other professionals sent to work in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea and the people who graduated there had a fine esprit de corps that kept them in touch with each other down the years.

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EMTV features book launch as a top story in its Sunday news



EMTV reporter Serah Aupong was a busy person at last week’s book launch of My Walk to Equality in Port Moresby.

And the package she put together on the book and on Papua New Guinean writers for EMTV News was a model of condensing a big event into a sharp-edged news feature.

Serah's piece, neatly entitled ‘Rising Papua New Guinean Writers, was the second story on EMTV’s Sunday night news.

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Home-grown literature creates a sense of national identity


‘Gummi’ Fridriksson is the CEO and a director of Paga Hill Development Company and both he and the company have been great supporters of literature in PNG. Without their early sponsorship of My Walk to Equality this landmark publishing project would have been much more difficult to accomplish. He made these remarks at last Wednesday’s book launch….

THE Paga Hill Development Company is very proud to be able to support such an important publication and event.

We wholeheartedly congratulate the authors, all women of Papua New Guinea, on the significant milestone achievement of My Walk to Equality.

Their stories are now proudly published for current and future generations to enjoy and learn from and gain inspiration from.

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Words of note: The resonating messages of ‘My Walk to Equality’

Tanya Zeriga-Alone at micTANYA ZERIGA-ALONE

As she read 'My Walk to Equality', the first collection of women’s writing from Papua New Guinea for which she wrote a Foreword, Tanya Zeriga-Alone derived some key pointers to guide women on their complex societal journey. This is a lightly edited version of her talk at the launch of the book in Port Moresby on International Women's Day last Wednesday.....

CONGRATULATIONS to all the women who brought 'My Walk to Equality' to fruition. All the women in the book are great story tellers.

I went through different emotions in the course of reading this book.   From anger to sadness to tears and just a choked up feeling, but I learnt a lot.

The theme for International Women’s Day was Be Bold for Change. The launching of the anthology on this day is a bold step toward equality for woman in Papua New Guinea.

The anthology contains the stories of women who are already creating a better and stronger PNG.

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Milestone book launched: Let us walk boldly to equality


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.

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Learning from others' experiences & the power of PNG women


IT’S a privilege to attend the launch of this anthology, My Walk to Equality.

This important collection gives practical and insightful meaning to our shared goal of gender equality.

I join with others in congratulating all those involved in the project, including editor Rashmii Amoah Bell, the 45 Papua New Guinean women writers involved and Keith Jackson.

The anthology is a timely vehicle through which the contributing writers have been able to express themselves and speak out about issues that matter, deeply, to all societies. 

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Cr Ingrid supports female authors in Papua New Guinea

Cr Ingrid Jackson with a copy of My Walk to EqualityPETER GARDINER | Noosa News

COUNCILLOR Ingrid Jackson will strengthen Noosa's literary ties with Papua New Guinea.

She has travelled privately to Papua New Guinea for International Women's Day on Wednesday, 8 March, to launch My Walk to Equality, the first collection of writing by Papua New Guinean women.

The book’s editor, Rashmii Amoah Bell, asked Cr Jackson to represent her at the launch as she cannot attend.

"I was honoured to be invited to perform this function, as My Walk to Equality, a book of nearly 300 pages, is a landmark anthology in a country where the lot of women has been particularly difficult,” Cr Jackson said.

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