Rising up for equal rights in Papua New Guinea

19 November 2020

Rachael, 22, is among the young women taking the lead on ending violence and discrimination against girls and women in Papua New Guinea with the help of training from Plan International.

Rachael grew up in a home with domestic violence. When her father left her mother to remarry, she was deeply impacted by it. She credits the Rise Up! training sessions she’s taken part in as helping her to realise that men and women are equal. She’s also been advising her mum about her rights, especially when contacting her father.

“When my dad remarried another woman, we had nowhere to live so stayed with my aunties. In the family I’m the only child. I have no brother and sister. 

“Here, life is a struggle. Only through hard work you can earn money for your living. We have a farm where we work to earn money. 

Prevalent violence against women

“Violence here is getting worse. Men are divorcing their wives and women are divorcing their husbands. Men have no interest if their wife decides to divorce him, so they look for a way out and begin to be so violent to their wives. I really suffered from this issue when dad left mum.

After the awareness sessions, leaders and people in the community began to work together again.

“Growing up in such a situation, it really affected me. Because when your family life is good you too will be happy. There was no one to support me. It’s really bad to grow up in such an environment. I do think that there should be training to support people and prevent these issues happening at home. 

“I attended the Rise Up! training and it helped me a lot, because we learnt some things which are beneficial to us and it was relevant to the situation I come from. It was good and it supported me a lot. 

Taking the lead in the community

“It helped me with the problem I faced about domestic violence, and we ran awareness sessions in the community. It changed the way we lived. At first, the community, we did not work together. But after the awareness sessions, leaders and people in the community began to work together again. 

“After attending the training, I helped my mother too, advising her on how to speak to my father. As usual, you know, men don’t like losing and they think they know everything and look down on women. I told mum that we are all equal.  

“Some men use words like peanut about women, meaning women are not strong. Women have low self-esteem, thinking that men are above them. But that is not true. All of us are equal. 

“I think the training has helped a lot of women to understand that all of us are equal, but we have different responsibilities. Nowadays, men do women’s roles and women do men’s role, unlike in the past. 

“I’m think there should be more training in the community – only that will educate us to change and develop our community.”

Rise Up!

Plan International’s Rise Up! Young Women’s Leadership Programme supports gender equality through training, mentoring and practical leadership experiences for young women, through which participants develop leadership skills and self-confidence.

It also provides the opportunity for discussion of social issues affecting young women in their community, including topics such as violence against women and sexual and reproductive health. Participants learn basic advocacy skills, and subsequently plan and deliver a community level advocacy project with the support of a mentor.

Unique to the Rise Up! programme is the inclusion of religious, cultural and traditional perspectives that enable women’s empowerment and leadership.

Girls Get Equal, Protection from violence, Youth empowerment, Gender-based violence, girls’ leadership