WPHF is supporting local women’s civil society organizations in PNG working to end sexual and gender based violence and protect the rights of women and girls.
In PNG, the WPHF and Spotlight Initiative partnership is channeling programmatic and institutional financing to grassroots women’s organizations working to end violence against women and promote human rights and gender equality in crisis and conflict settings.
This financing is strengthening the capacity of women’s rights groups and social movements to advance progress on women’s empowerment, gender equality and women’s contributions to peace.
WPHF has supported 10 projects implemented by 11 women-led and women’s rights civil society organizations in PNG:
WPHF and Spotlight Initiative Partners: Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Women and Girls in Crisis Settings and Contributing to an Enabling Environment for Women Peace and Security
- Coalition for Change on a project to maintain its counseling and advocacy activities for women’s survivors of SGBV amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The institutional support will be used to cover staff salaries and expenses, enhance the organization’s IT equipment, establish effective communication strategies, and develop and disseminate virtual and physical awareness material on SGBV and VAWG.
- Imbongu Rural Women Empowerment Program Incorporated on a project to develop and strengthen its institutional capacities to better respond to women’s and girl’s needs in Umbongu by assessing its staff and volunteers’ skills and knowledge and building their capacities, while procuring office materials, equipment, general travel and vital operations costs.
- KUP Women for Peace on a project to enhance its institutional capacities to respond to women’s and girls’ needs more adequately by training its staff and focal points on organizational systems, human rights, laws, and VAWG case management. The funding received will also be used to update and document the organization’s policies, enhance its use of online communications tools, and support its participation in joint regional and national advocacy forums.
- Voice for Change (VFC) on a project to enhance its organizational capacities to better respond to women’s needs, enabling the organization to self-assess its policies, adopt new strategies on disability inclusion, gender, and the prevention of sexual exploitation and harassment and new resource mobilization processes. This project also supports the advocacy actions of VFC’s Family Safety Committees, conflict mediation system, and women human rights defenders.
- Kafe Urban Settles Women’s Association (KUSWA) on a project to strengthen its organizational capacities to maintain its activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic and provide quality services to women and girls in Goroka and Henganofi. The funding received will help the organization document and update its communication policies, risk management plans and financial system, train its staff on the use of new technologies and on delivering COVID-19 and VAWG prevention and awareness sessions, and support its participation in relevant regional and national forums.
- Eden Empowerment on a project to protect women and girls by strengthening the capacities of 15 ward community development officers on women’s and girls’ protection and safety in crisis contexts. The project aims to establish EVAWG Committees to provide survivors with mediation, counseling, and referral services.
- Imbongu Rural Women Empowerment Program Incorporated on a project that promotes women’s and girls’ rights and increases their feeling of safety and security through awareness campaigns led by both female and male village-based volunteers, preventing and responding to SGBV through building their leadership skills, providing them with economic opportunities, promoting their SRHR and creating exchange spaces where survivors can share experiences. The project will also establish a shelter for survivors and help them coordinate with health service providers, the police, justice departments, churches, counselling houses and other related service providers, as well as strengthen accountability mechanisms and raise awareness of existing legislation on SGBV.
- KUP Women for Peace (KWP) on a project to change attitudes and social norms associated with SGBV and sorcery accusation-related violence by training community members, including young women and community leaders, on human rights, COVID-19 prevention measures and Law Toolkit modules, while building women survivors’ capacities in financial literacy and business skills, improving their access to support services by holding community care, counselling and well-being training sessions and coordinating efforts with other service providers to jointly advocate for and provide improved protection for survivors of VAWG. In collaboration with human rights defenders’ movements and other organizations, they will develop advocacy campaigns to influence and engage government authorities to protect women’s rights and increase women’s and girls’ security through the establishment of a Human Rights Commission while also allocating resources to implement the National GBV Strategy and National Sorcery Accusation Related Violence Plan.
- Touching the Untouchables on a project to respond to the increasing numbers of VAWG during the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering quality, continued, and sustainable security and mental health services to women and girl survivors of violence, increasing their knowledge of available GBV services and SRHR via awareness campaigns and workshops, improving the institutional capacity of health facilities by training care providers on COVID-19 and GBV. They will also strengthen the capacities of service institutions and women-led civil society organizations that are actively engaged in mitigating GBV via workshops and producing educational communication material to hold duty bearers accountable for delivering human rights obligations during the COVID-19 response.
- Voice for Change (VFC) together with the International Women’s Development Agency on a project to enhance women’s and girls’ protection in Jiwaka province by building the capacities of the VFC’s Safety Committees (composed of: peace mediators, police, court officials, health workers, local CBOs members, and youth groups) on human and women’s rights, gender equality and on laws that protect and uphold women’s rights. The project aims to increase survivors’ access to services by providing GBV counseling, offering legal and medical support, and coordinating referral pathways while strengthening VFC’s capacities in programs and financial management.
Papua New Guinea has long been subjected to inter clan rivalries and economic, political, and cultural pressures that led to continued armed conflict and social breakdown. In Bougainville, twenty years after a decade of bloody conflict, secessionist sentiments are growing and risks of eruption of violence exist around the process for independence. Disparate violence and destabilization are severely impacting women and girls who face structural discrimination.
Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in Papua New Guinea is deeply rooted in traditional and social norms, with the persistence of harmful practices such as bride price and polygamy. The Highlands have one of the highest rates of gender-based violence (GBV), much of it being related to tribal conflicts and conflict associated Sorcery Related Violence (SRV). Increasing rivalry for land and lack of resources are rising witchcraft and sorcery accusations against women and girls (especially widows and those outside the clan) to manipulate the acquisition of their resources. Furthermore, whether in governmental institutions or in religious, and customary structures, cultural and systemic obstacles prevent women from participating in political life and accessing decision-making positions.
Over the past decade crucial progress has been in law, and practice reforms have been undertaken to expand women’s access to justice, health, and community sector services. However, demand is outstripping supply, and thousands of survivors of GBV are in acute need for support, including access to medical, psychological, and legal assistance and shelters. Those needs have been further exacerbated by the COVID19 pandemic which heightened women’s and girls’ vulnerabilities and the risks they face.
The women’s movement in Papua New Guinea remains dispersed, although great steps have been made, particularly in the growth of a burgeoning network of Women Human Rights Defenders. Numerous civil society organizations working on SRV, and inter-tribal conflict resolution are funded irregularly and lack full capacity despite their commitment. The COVID-19 pandemic further constrained women’s organizations chances to access funding opportunities and impacted their ability to sustain themselves through the crisis and to effectively and safely implement activities that address the increased violence against women and girls.
In PNG, WPHF aims to ensure the financing and coordination of local civil society organizations working to empower women as key actors to end sexual and gender based violence against women in crisis settings, advancing women’s contributions to lasting peace across the country.