A Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week by Dr Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Political Parties and the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission, and Professor Michael Wesley, Dean of the Australian National University (ANU) College of Asia and the Pacific, committing both organisations to work together to improve women’s leadership and political participation in Papua New Guinea.
Dr Gelu said he was pleased to be working with ANU’s State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) program to deliver the five-year Women in Leadership Support Program. Dr Gelu noted that this program, along with the Commission’s work to strengthen women’s inclusion in political parties are important because we need senior male leaders to work with women to drive change and address the barriers to greater political participation for women.
“This is a longer-term commitment. It is important for the development, health and wealth of Papua New Guinea that women are able to effectively participate in leadership at all levels of decision-making. It is important to strengthen the Commission’s ability to help political parties support women candidates,” said Dr Gelu.
Professor Wesley said: “ANU treasures its relationship with Papua New Guinea. This relationship has a long and rich history. Given that no women were elected in this year’s election, this is an important partnership. I am happy to be formalising the good working relationship between the Commission and the ANU developed over many years.”
The Women in Leadership Support Program is co-funded by the Australian Government and the ANU. The program is informed by long-term research by Australian and Pacific researchers on women’s experiences of campaigning and factors influencing electoral performance in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific.
Australian High Commission Counsellor for Gender and Sports, Susan Ferguson witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. Ms Ferguson said: “The Australian Government is committed to continuing to work in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea to increase women’s leadership and participation in decision-making.”
The Women in Leadership Support Program delivered training to127 potential women candidates in the lead up to the national election. The experience of women candidates will be used to improve the training for women in the lead up to the local level government elections in 2018. Through the Program women will be able to access mentoring, skills training and experience to take on leadership roles in local and national representative bodies.
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Dr Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission, and Professor Michael Wesley, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific Australian National University pictured after signing their Memorandum of Understanding to work together to improve women’s leadership over the next four years.