‘The women leaders talk about taking on more responsibility within their communities, of speaking more confidently in public and that they had gained respect.’
Ms Fredah Wantum, Project Leader, on women’s experience as community educators in the Western Highlands Province (as part of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research project).


Project name: Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Bougainville Project
Outcome area: Leadership and decision making
Project partners: World Bank
Total funding: $3,000,000
Funding timeframe: 2015–2018

Pacific Women, the World Bank and the Autonomous Bougainville Government are supporting local women across the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to identify, plan and deliver community projects that meet the development priorities of women.

Bougainville suffered a significant loss of physical and social infrastructure as a result of the 10-year crisis from 1988 to 1998. The Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Bougainville Project seeks to redress these gaps in a way that supports the involvement of women in all aspects of delivering community projects.

Women who are part of the project are developing skills in managing a project cycle. This includes planning and identifying needs, making decisions about priorities, drafting detailed project designs, obtaining costs estimates, drawing up activity schedules and procuring materials.

In 2016, 85 women’s groups (222 women) received training. Projects being implemented by these groups include building new resource centres, aid posts and classrooms, improving water supply and sanitation; and bringing better ‘haus’ markets to their communities.

Ms Celestine Tommy, the Chairperson of the Malasang Women’s Group, said of her group’s involvement: ‘in the beginning we didn’t get much support. Now the project is finished, people are giving us their support.’

The Community Centre built by the Malasang Women’s Group through the project has become a successful business entity providing a space for events and functions for the community.

While women’s groups are planning and delivering the projects, an important feature of the initiative is the engagement of the local community leaders. Each project idea goes through a Council of Elders’ appraisal committee and the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Project Management Unit undertakes validation ahead of technical review and funding. The Council of Elders’ Executive officers also attend all trainings and assist with monitoring the projects in their communities.

Participants pose with their certificates after a successful sub-project implementation workshop. Photo: Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Bougainville Project.

Project name: Improving opportunities for economic development for women smallholders in rural PNG ‘Family Teams’
Outcome areas: Economic empowerment
Project partners: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), University of Canberra
Total funding: $3,000,000
Funding timeframe: 2015–2017

The ACIAR is trialling different models of farmer learning to help families examine the work done by women, men and youth and to work towards more equitable and effective distribution of agricultural and household labour.

Supported by Pacific Women, ACIAR’s Family Teams project seeks to enhance the lives and economic security of women farmers in PNG. It enables farming families to explore issues of gender and culture within families, seeking to encourage more effective, sustainable and gender equitable farming and business practices.

The program assists families to plan and make decisions together. It encourages opportunities for women to have access to their own income and promotes the wider benefits of women having a voice within the family and community.

In the remote Alona ward of the Mul-Baiyer district of the Western Highlands Province, seven women are leading teams of village community educators to roll out the program. ACIAR has partnered with the Baptist Union to support these women chosen by their communities, most of whom have prior experience as leaders in church and women’s groups.

Ms Fredah Wantum, Project Leader in the Highlands shared that ‘the women leaders talk about taking on more responsibility within their communities, of speaking more confidently in public and that they had gained respect’.

The project is trialling different methods of delivery for the program, including a women’s only model and a mixed gender model. Early lessons from the Family Teams research indicate the importance of providing ongoing support for the women leadership teams.

The value of having both women and men as peer educators has been highlighted as enhancing men’s engagement and providing public role models for both women and men.

With the aim of supporting women and men to work more equitably and effectively as a family team, the program includes modules on planning as a family for family goals, communicating and decision making as a family team and, in response to the drought, feeding your family.

The project is now extending to the Asaro Valley, Eastern Highlands, partnering with the Fresh Produce Development Agency, and Wahgi Valley, Jiwaka partnering with Voice for Change.

A joint research project with CARE and the University of Canberra will examine the Family Teams model in both coffee and vegetable producing communities to identify how the concepts are understood and applied by women, men and youth.

Alona ward peer educators discussing the use of ‘financial decision making cards’ to enable better designing making. The project is working with both women and men peer educators. Photo: Sanna Harri.

Project name: Safe Public Transport with and for Women and Children
Outcome area: Ending violence against women
Project Partner: UN Women
Total Funding: $3,000,000
Funding timeframe: 2015–2017

More than 90 percent of women and girls in Port Moresby have experienced some form of violence or harassment when accessing public transport. The Meri Seif Bus (safe bus for women) is providing safe public transport options for women and girls and promotes respectful behaviour amongst men and boys towards women and girls.

Research from the World Bank shows that women change their transport behaviour when they feel their physical safety is threatened. This can often be to the detriment of their economic success. In response, Pacific Women has been supporting UN Women and Ginigoada Bisnis Development Foundation to provide safe buses on popular routes in Port Moresby since September 2015.

The first Meri Seif Bus between Gerehu market and central Port Moresby averages over 400 women passengers per day. A second Meri Seif Bus began operating on another high use route in February 2016 and is equally popular.

The Meri Seif Buses provide women only, safe, reliable and free public transport. The buses enable women and girls to move around Port Moresby to get to work safely, as well as access health facilities and markets without harassment, allowing them to better support their communities and families.

The project also works more broadly on changing behaviours and attitudes within the public transport system to make it safer. In addition to providing women only transport, the Meri Seif Bus crew also provide awareness training to male commuters at bus stops about the benefits of the service, and the importance of safety for women and girls.

Public Motor Vehicle (PMV) drivers can be a key ally to ensure safety in buses. The project engages with public transport providers, including PMV drivers, to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual-based violence against women and girls in and around public transport.

One of the Meri Seif Bus drivers shared, ‘I believe it is a responsibility of the driver to ensure the safety of passengers, the driver is the team leader of the bus, of the crew, he is a person behind the wheels, the general safety is also the responsibility of the driver.’

Women have reported feeling safer when travelling in the Meri Seif Bus. Men have also become more supportive of the bus and appreciate the service it provides for women.

Meri Seif Bus drivers and crew. This bus service in Port Moresby provides women-only, safe, reliable and free public transport for women and girls. Photo: UN Women.

Project name: Economic Empowerment Partnerships with Private Sector
Outcome area: Economic empowerment
Project partner: International Finance Corporation
Total funding: $3,400,000
Funding timeframe: 2014–2018

The Business Coalition for Women (BCFW) is a group of companies and corporate leaders who are helping the private sector in PNG to recruit, retrain and promote women as employees, leaders, customers and business partners. Among other resources and services, BCFW has developed a model workplace policy and related tools that support survivors of GBV. Active coalition member NCS Holdings Pty (NCS) is already seeing early results.

Research conducted in 2014–2015 by BCFW found that 94 percent of surveyed PNG employers believed their employees had experienced GBV and that it affects their workplaces. Further research with a sample group of employers showed the cost of GBV due to loss of staff time alone was between two and nine percent of their salary bills.

In response, the BCFW worked with its members to develop a Family and Sexual Violence Legal Guide for businesses in PNG, a model workplace FSV policy and an implementation toolkit. BCFW provides training to help its members to implement the gender smart policies.

NCS was one of two early adopters and participated in the pilot training.

Since the training, NCS is reporting positive change in its workplace. More staff experiencing FSV have disclosed that they are survivors; there has been a reduction in visible bruising and an increase in attendance of staff who had previously been absent due to FSV.

In one case since the FSV policies were introduced, NCS actively assisted an employee by reporting the violence to the perpetrator’s employer. The employer warned the perpetrator that his behaviour was unacceptable and that if he should retaliate, disciplinary action would be taken against him.

Without NCS’ action, it is likely that the employee would have abandoned her employment at both a personal cost as well as direct and indirect costs to NCS. Direct costs alone (termination, recruitment and retraining costs) were estimated in this case at PGK 4,333 (AU$1,785).

Male staff members also report feeling engaged in NCS’ response to FSV. A male staff member stated ‘I am very proud to be a part of a company that has seen the need to educate our staff on FSV and launch a policy to assist all of us that may experience FSV in some way, now we are aware that this is not just a domestic issue anymore. It seriously affects people at work also.’

L-R:Chef Helen Marum with NCS Holdings Pty Managing Director John Gethin-Jones. Mr Gethin-Jones has been an active supporter of the Coalition’s work since its inception. Photo: NCS Holdings Pty.