PORT MORESBY 24 November 2022: The 20 Days of Human Rights Activism campaign was launched on Sunday 20 November. Every year, this campaign is used to focus the attention of people across the country on addressing gender-based violence and promoting human rights.
Within the 20 Days campaign, 25 November is dedicated to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. As a sign of the National Parliament’s commitment to addressing violence against women and tackling gender-based violence, today the Parliament passed a motion to establish a new Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment and Gender-Based Violence (GEWE-GBV).
The new Committee will be chaired by Governor Powes Parkop, who has long been a champion of women’s rights and has campaigned tirelessly to end GBV in the National Capital District and across the country. After the vote, Governor Parkop stated: “I would like to thank the Government and my parliamentary colleagues for setting up this Committee, which will enable us to continue the important work we started with the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV last term. That Committee was only an ad hoc body, but today MPs have voted to make this a permanent committee which means it will be set up by each parliament, after every election, to enable MPs to ensure the rights of our women and girls are realised.”
He went on to say: “I will use my position as Chair of this Committee to keep using our oversight powers to hold our government bodies to account for their efforts to empower women and end violence. The work should implement the rights in our National Constitution and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. If we want PNG to prosper, we must make sure that our women and girls have equal opportunities to participate politically, economically and socially in every aspect of PNG life. They must also be safe – safe in their homes, safe in their workplaces and safe in our communities. I will use my time in this term to make that a reality”.
"If we want PNG to prosper, we must make sure that our women and girls have equal opportunities to participate politically, economically and socially in every aspect of PNG life. They must also be safe – safe in their homes, safe in their workplaces and safe in our communities. I will use my time in this term to make that a reality" -- Governor Powes Parkop, Committee Chair
The new Committee has a broader term of reference than the previous Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV. In addition to examining all aspects related to addressing GBV, the Committee has been empowered to examine other issues that impact on gender equality, including women’s leadership, women’s economic empowerment and related GEWE reforms. The Committee can also examine the role of the National Council of Women in promoting women’s rights.
Deputy Committee Chair, Governor Allan Bird also made a statement upon the endorsement of the motion, stating: “I am very happy that our 11th Parliament has again demonstrated its commitment to promoting the rights of women and girls through our parliamentary work. Building on the work we did through the last Committee, we will again hold regular public hearings which we will used to hold Ministers and officials accountable for their efforts – or their lack of effort – to address critical issues related to the protection and empowerment of women and girls. We want to see more concrete action to make women’s rights a reality.”
"We want to see more concrete action to make women’s rights a reality." - Governor Allan Bird, Deputy Committee Chair
The new Committee has six members, in addition to the Chair: Governor Allan Bird (East Sepik), Deputy Chairperson; Governor Rufina Peter (Central Province); Hon. Marsh Narewec, (Wau Waria); Hon. Ricky Morris (Alotau); Hon. William Bando (Koroba Lake Kopiago); and Hon. Lohia Boe Samuel (Port Moresby North West).
As the new Committee moves to take over the work of the last Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV, both Chairman Parkop and Deputy Chairman Bird also extended their gratitude and thanks to the former chair, Mr Charles Abel, who was not returned to the 11th Parliament. They paid tribute to his energy and commitment, which was critical to making the work of that first Committee a success and should be acknowledged by the whole country as a vital contribution to making PNG a safer, better place for women. They also thanked the other members of the Committee who participated in the two sets of public hearings, and endorsed the two Committee Reports tabled in Parliament, namely Hon Aiye Tambua, Mr Allan Marat, Mr Michael Dua and Mr Ginson Saonu.
Chairman Parkop also extended his thanks to other members of the 11th Parliament who stated their commitment for the new Committee but were unable to participate in its work due to their role as Vice Ministers, notably, Hon Kessy Sawang (Rai-Coast) and Hon Raphael Tonpi (Mendi).
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be providing technical support to the new Parliamentary Committee on GEWE and GBV as part of its gender programming and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. This support aims to address GEWE and Gender-Based Violence and support longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.