Civil Society groups rescuing women from violence in PNG
Oxfam New Zealand, Executive Director reflects on partnerships in Papua New Guinea.
Civil Society groups in Papua New Guinea are working with Oxfam to rescue and repatriate women who experience violence in their communities.
Oxfam New Zealand is closely involved and its executive director, Rachael Le Mesurier, spoke to Koroi Hawkins about the work her agency is doing.
RACHEL LE MESURIER: There is a range of approaches that Oxfam is doing in Papua New Guinea. The one that is particularly pertinent to focusing on women, is our working with women who are fleeing violence and they are often fleeing domestic violence but also in many cases fleeing sorcery related violence from their communities. And obviously working with partners who are going to help them to, going to pick them up and take them away from the community or away from the violence. Providing a safe house and then also helping them set up and this is a new piece of work for Oxfam. We are doing repatriating and assistance with helping people, helping women set up whether it be a small business or an ability to be able to be economically independent.
KOROI HAWKINS: I understand that there is also water and sanitation issues that Oxfam covers?
RLM: And that's also linked up to women's empowerment and ensuring that women who live in rural communities and hard to reach communities, have access to clean water which helps health for themselves and their children and helps them with good hygiene in respect to ensuring that there are toilets that are appropriately built and used and also hygiene around food production and ensuring that people are eating safely and that they have access to good nutritional food. And the third part of work that Oxfam does in Papua New Guinea is all part of the larger picture of women's empowerment its particularly helping livelihood programs with smallhold farmers who are part of a village or a community and together they are identifying ways to improve their gardening if they can both look after their families and feed their families. But also hopefully sell the surplus and begin to bring in some cash that will help them perhaps pay school fees and costs for a visit to the doctor.
KH: And are there any challenges that they have brought to light?
RLM: There are significant challenges for men and women in Papua New Guinea particularly in rural areas who are not only dealing with the disadvantage and the poverty related to, with being so rural and having no access to water and power. They are also dealing with both cultural expectations of the women's place and in many cases a degree of violence that is normalised that is accepted its shocking. But there are women's organisations and supporters now male partners who are challenging that and that they are wanting to design their programs they want to be involved with the, the thinking about long term strategy. They have great ideas, they've got innovation and they are inspirationally brave. Some of these women are taking phone calls at two in the morning, going out to the villages themselves, getting between those women and the community and taking them to a safe place. They are absolute heroes.
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