The Women in Public Service Project Workshop at the Papua New Guinea Women’s Forum
Time and Place
On March 8th, in honor of International Women’s Day, the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center launched a two day series of workshops as part of the Papua New Guinea Women’s Forum, co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby and the Government of PNG’s Department of Community Development. The program focused on the transformative power of women’s leadership and provided attendees with tools to advance their careers in public service. The event brought together approximately 200 women, including NGO leaders, university students, PNG government representatives, members of the diplomatic corps, and international NGO representatives.
The forum was the result of ongoing efforts between local NGOs and the government of Papua New Guinea to spur increased representation of women in the public sector. Although women in PNG have made gains in obtaining political representation at the local governmental level, political representation of women remains at one of the lowest levels in the world, with women holding less than 3% of parliamentary seats and only 12% of all executive level positions in the public sector. Women in PNG also suffer from epidemic levels of domestic violence and sexual assault, with studies showing that 70% of women will be raped or assaulted in their lifetime. The high level of gender based violence in PNG further impedes women’s entrance into the public sphere, creating a vicious cycle in which women’s voices are not present in decision-making roles, causing many “women’s issues” to be further marginalized. The government of PNG has committed itself to advancing a new agenda to better meet the needs of women, and these workshops represent a concrete step in the right direction.
The WPSP Workshop showed delegates how to utilize their role in public service to transform their communities by addressing some of the most pressing issues facing women in PNG today. Accordingly, sessions focused on providing delegates with a framework on how to draft legislation that combats gender-based violence as well as how to craft gender-aware legislation. Discussions examined the impact of women’s decision-making on policymaking, governance, economic development, and the intergenerational impact. The workshop also served as a space for participants to share their personal experiences on civic engagement, community leadership, and public service. The final part of the workshop required delegates to critically examine ways in which the forum and the forum’s network could advance their work as leaders in public service, culminating with the creation of an action plan to advance women in public service leadership roles in PNG.
The Workshop was moderated and administered by Dr. Rangita de Silva, Director of the Women in Public Service Project.