PNG report indicates dramatic increase in gender equity
A survey has found the proportion of female teachers, principals and health workers in Papua New Guinea has increased significantly in the past decade.
A survey has found the proportion of female teachers, principals and health workers working in Papua New Guinea has increased significantly in the past decade.
A decade ago only one-quarter of PNG's primary school teachers were women but that has increased to 50 percent.
The findings are part of a report undertaken by the Australian National University and PNG's National Research Institute.
The report compares a 2012 survey of 360 primary schools and health clinics across eight provinces in PNG with a survey completed in 2002.
One of the authors of the report, Stephen Howes, told Amelia Langford the results were surprising.
STEPHEN HOWES: We have been able to do an analysis looking at the performance of these schools and clinics across PNG and try to get to the question, whether the economic growth that PNG has experienced, whether the resource boom and the extra revenue that has involved, whether that has been translated into better services for ordinary Papua New Guineans.
AMELIA LANGFORD: Okay. So having that 10 year gap would be quite effective in terms of comparison. What were some of the highlights of the survey in terms of what you found?
SH: Yeah we've got lots of results and you can look at it from a variety of dimensions. I think one thing we want to stress is that it is not all bad news. People often have a pessimistic outlook to PNG and it certainly is a troubled country in various dimensions but it is also a country making progress. If we look at schools, for example, we do see a lot more kids enrolled in schools, enrolments have gone up by 58 percent over that period. And interestingly, most of that is a massive increase in girls going to school - so the number of boys has gone up, but only by about 20 percent, but the number of girls has gone up - it has almost tripled. So we have gone from a situation where only about a third of students in primary schools were girls to one where almost half the students are girls. So that is one area that we found. We also, just on the gender front, were surprised by our findings when we looked at the gender of the teachers and the principals and the health clinic workers and managers we interviewed. Again we also found a big shift towards females. So if you look at principals of schools - only 13 percent were women in 2002 but that has gone up to 27 percent in 2012 and a similar, smaller shift in health workers. But interestingly, the majority of teachers and health workers are now female something that wasn't true in 2002 and they are the ones who are being promoted so we are seeing a shift in the health and education workforce and that is not surprising from an Australian or New Zealand perspective but it is from a PNG perspective - it does show that women are taking a more prominent part in the professional workforce.
AL: Yes, it is quite a shift isn't it. What do you put that down to?
SH: It is interesting to see the much bigger change in education than in health and that's, we think, because there are just more teachers coming into the workforce and I think you're seeing, with more girls at school, going on to university then you're having more young women graduate as teachers and finding a job in the workforce so in a way I think it is a natural transition but it is taking place more quickly in schools than in the health sector. Because in the health sector you know in general we find a very different picture. I mean, I mention enrolments have gone up quite sharply but when you look at the number of patients going to a clinic - actually it has fallen - which is remarkable given that you have seen population growth of about 30 percent but in absolute numbers you have seen a fall and in terms of the workforce you don't see any increase in the number of workers and you see workers at the same health centre for nine or 10 years so we see much less expansion, much less turnover in health, and therefore it is much more difficult for anyone, including women, to get a job, to get a foothold in that sector.
AL: I guess a lot of people see PNG as quite a patriarchal society. Could we read into these figures that attitudes are changing towards women and their role in PNG society?
SH: You have to think it is a positive development you know, teachers are role models, and health workers are normally pretty highly respected and if you get into a situation where more than half the teachers are female and in a way Port Moresby is the future of PNG - more and more Papua New Guineans are living in cities and when you get to PM it is two thirds - not only two thirds of teachers are women but two thirds of principals. So there is a long way to go but this is a sort of promising social change which I am sure will have broader ramifications.
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