Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Australia supports PNG women in ICT

Feature Story 09 March 2023

Globally, the information, communication, and technology (ICT) sectors are heavily dominated by men. In Papua New Guinea, cultural norms and traditions impact the gender divide heavily across the field.

For many women who have not had female role models working in non-traditional roles, they may not realise entering the field of ICT is an option for them. This is exactly why representation, and mentorship opportunities for women are so important.

In late 2022, the Australian Government, through its Economic and Social Infrastructure Program, sponsored two department staff from the Government of PNG’s Department of Information, Communication and Technology (DICT) to attend the 2022 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference from 26th September to 14th October 2022 in Bucharest, Romania.

Tessie Leva, Strategic Partnership Manager and Brenda Sovo, Administration Officer were selected to participate in the three-month ‘Introduction to ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference and Negotiation Skills for women delegates’, in the lead up to the conference in Romania.

The Australian Government’s support to the roll-out of this training helps ITU to meet their target of improving gender equity among participants and attendees of the conference. This training enabled more than 100 women who attended to be equipped with the skills to fully participate in the conference.

For Tessie and Brenda, the training has given them vital skills that they now use in their work every day and are sharing with other women.

Ms Sovo shared, “The negotiation component of the training we received was my most memorable part. Even if you can’t get the answer you want, try different strategies to get what you need from your interaction. I practice this every day in my work now.”

During the conference, Tessie met with Lisa Gitto, First Secretary for the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, and Doreen Bogdan Martin, the first ever female Secretary General for the ITU Council in the 53-year history of the ITU.

“These women are driving the mainstreaming of gender representation for women in the Plenipotentiary space, particularly in decision-making, leadership, and chairing roles. Having the opportunity to meet them was a real highlight for me,” Ms Leva explained.”

 Through these networking opportunities, Tessie, with support from the National ICT Authority of PNG (NICTA) hopes to establish a project to create a Pacific ICT Women’s Network. Both Tessie and Brenda hope the training they received will be offered to more women in PNG.

“Times have changed, and Papua New Guinea needs women to be leaders to drive the digital change. We can move forward together, let the men hear the voice of women. Women can work in ICT too.” Ms Sovo shared.

                                                                          Women in ICT; Brenda Sovo (left) and Tessie Leva.

A key outcome of the conference was the emphasis on Resolution 70, ‘Mainstreaming a gender perspective in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through telecommunications/information and communication technologies.’

Ms Leva said, “The Australian side took the lead on driving this resolution, and to support this resolution. I think the training should continue for women in the Pacific to make sure we can fully-realise the goals of this resolution.”

Ms Sovo explained, “Resolution 70 will allow us to have policy to back us up, so that we can move forward. Now that we have an Act, we need our government to support women to enter this sector.”

DICT and NICTA are undertaking several activities and initiatives to support gender equity in the ICT space including an ICT Scholarship for girls, and the promotion of the Digital Government Act and Digital Plan, which both include the importance of promoting women’s participation. Both departments are collaborating to increase the standard in ICT connective activities.

Ms Leva shared, “My advice for women and girls, is that we can. If we continue to pursue education opportunities and training, and not giving up because of our backgrounds and traditional roles, we can become leaders and decision-makers in PNG.”

The Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership is committed to supporting gender equity and empowering women across all sectors, especially ICT, science, and mathematics. Australia is proud to partner with international institutions to create opportunities for Pacific women on the global stage.

For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100