PORT MORESBY 26 April 2021: The Coalition of Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence convened today to agree to their 2021 Plan of Action, and to individually pledge to role model a “gold-standard” of behaviour: the same that they are calling on every Papua New Guinean to display.
Their pledge to address gender-based violence comes at a critical time. The last weeks have seen a steady stream of cases come to light of extreme violence against women and girls. The Coalition MPs are concerned at the numerous stories being reported of sorcery-related torture, incest and family violence, the sexual assault of children, and the abuse of police and security guard powers.
Coalition Co-Chair Hon. Powes Parkop stated that, “On a daily basis we are reminded of the extent of the GBV crisis facing our country. Women and children deserve to feel safe in our communities. We all have to do more than we are doing now otherwise such barbarism might become the daily norm, culture and way of life in our country, if it’s not already.”
The National GBV Strategy was launched in 2016 and is supposed to guide the Government’s efforts to address GBV across the country. In 2015, a specific Sorcery and Witchcraft Accusation Related Violence National Action Plan was also developed.
"We need the Government to provide full funding to the National GBV Secretariat, so that they can actively drive and support change.” - Minister Jelta Wong
Reflecting on the status of the various national plans, The Hon. Jelta Wong, Minister for Health and HIV Aids, stated: “The National GBV Strategy and its related Implementation Plan are very good frameworks for action, but we need the National Government to turn those plans into action. We need the Government to provide full funding to the National GBV Secretariat, so that they can actively drive and support change.”
Coalition Co-Chair Hon Allan Bird continued by saying: “We also need Provincial Governments to set up their own provincial GBV Secretariats and to develop their own provincial GBV strategies to identify local priorities. I include my own home province in this group.”
During the meeting, Coalition MPs discussed their role in addressing GBV, both as elected national leaders but also as members of their own local communities and families. They recognized the importance of role modelling ethnical, respectful behaviour. To that end, the MPs each signed their own Coalition Pledge to End GBV, which commit each MP to never:
“Physically, emotionally, sexually or verbally abuse anyone, whether man, women or child; or bully, harass, or behave violently towards my family, my colleagues or my community.”
“I know that my actions matter. I know that change starts with me. And if I need help, I know that I need to seek it. Today, I solemnly pledge to do this wherever and with whomever so, that there is no longer a place for gender- based violence in our country.” - Coalition Members Pledge
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Coalition agreed on a number of steps moving forward.
Five Coalition MPs are also members of the Parliamentary Committee on GBV and will use their positions as committee members to push for public hearings to discuss specific GBV issues and priorities, including relating to prevention, law enforcement, public health responses and budgeting.
The Coalition also agreed to start planning for the next National GBV Summit, to be held near the end of 2021. The Coalition’s new website will provide updates on progress on their website at www.unitedforequalitypng.com.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical support to the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV as part of its gender programming and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, addressing Gender-Based Violence and longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.