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JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya, Indonesia (July 30, 2001 – Antara)---President Megawati Sukarnoputri is expected to give special attention to Papuan women to enable them to participate in national development.

Mrs. Betriks Koibur, former member of the local legislative assembly, said here on Sunday most Papuan women supported the election of Megawati as the fifth president.

She said that as a female president, Megawati would be able to enhance the dignity and identity of Papuan women, who have been lagging behind in national development compared with women in other parts of Indonesia.

According to Mrs. Koibur, Papuan women have been acting as good onlookers in national development for almost the past 38 years. They rarely had an opportunity to directly participate in the development of the nation and the state.

"No wonder, Papuan women were often seen as incapable people still lagging behind their colleagues in the other regions, just because they were never given the same opportunities," she said.

She also admitted that many Papuan women were suppressed by their tradition, as they received rude treatment from certain elements of security forces in the hinterland. But, she said some of them could sit in the government, become politicians and teach at the higher learning institutions.

She said we call on President Megawati to devote special attention to women by giving them more opportunities for active participation in national development.

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