PNG PROFESSIONALS CHALLENGED TO DEVELOP COUNTRY

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Skills learned abroad should not be kept to themselves

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 26, 2009) – A group of Papua New Guinean professionals has been challenged to translate their knowledge and experiences into workable solutions that could be used to propel the country forward.

They were told that as a young emerging democracy faced with cultural and professional challenges, they, as educated nationals having had the privilege of living and learning outside the country, had the task of ensuring that the knowledge they had acquired was not wasted but translated into development policies that would help rural communities.

However, they were warned that while so much could be discussed, nothing workable could be achieved unless the views and opinions of women were embodied in the different policies, plans, rules and regulations that were drawn up for the country.

The group, members of the PNG-Australia Alumni Association, PNG professionals who studied and lived in Australia, were challenged by various diplomatic and Government leaders, including Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, to not confine themselves to their workplaces but offer the wealth of knowledge and expertise they had, to develop the rural areas of PNG where more than 85 percent of the population are.

They were told that the best way to do this was to endorse women in leadership roles at women as natural leaders.

"International research has shown that when more women are given a chance at leadership, the social indicators of a country improves," Dame Carol Kidu in her keynote address told the group yesterday.

"That is not to say that men can’t do the job, it just emphasise the fact that women need to be represented at all levels of governance," she said.

She said Melanesian culture was traditionally male-dominated.

They made most of the decisions but often from the background, the women only gave them a voice.

They were like the backbone, invisible but indispensable.

The challenge for modern PNG, she said, was to make that indispensable part of society, the women, become visible.

Australian High Commissioner Chris Moraitis also acknowledged that PNG faced its own challenges trying to overcome the issue of gender equality.

He said while it was recognised the world over that greater equality between men and women equated to better development outcomes for everybody, the same could not be said for PNG as it struggled to address issues of violence and abuse.

"So we need to create an environment conducive for greater participation of women in more formal roles," Mr Moraitis said.

"And this is where you come in. You are PNG’s current and future leaders and opinion makers.

"A large part of the task falls on your shoulders."

More than 100 people participated in the two-day conference at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby with the theme "Women’s leadership in PNG".

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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