Bougainville woman gets backing despite men competing
Bougainville women's activist unfazed by numbers opposing her in an open seat in next month's election.
A Bougainville women's activist is unfazed by the number of men opposing her in an open seat in next month's election.
There are 11 women contesting the open seats in May's elections in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province.
Another 10 are contesting the three reserved seats for women.
One of those in the open seats is the founding president of the Bougainville Women's Federation, Hona Holan, who is standing in Haku on Buka and facing a record 23 male candidates.
She told Don Wiseman that while 20 men stood there in 2010, it still came as a surprise.
HONA HOLAN: But in the last election there were 20 men contesting the same seat so it's 24 of us contesting this time and there is 23 men and I am the only female candidate.
DON WISEMAN: Has there been a female candidate in that seat before?
HH: No that is why candidates are not accepting it when I am contesting because there wasn't any female contesting them in the last two houses.
DW: The men are not happy that you are contesting?
HH: It's the candidates, the men candidates who are not happy but there's a lot of men behind me and I have the support of the women of Haku who are together with me when I am contesting this seat and there's a lot of men behind me too the voters. But the comments I am getting are from the candidates themselves.
DW: You of course have a very significant amount of support on the island, you head the Bougainville Women's Federation, how important is that kind of support network for you?
HH: Yes I was president and now contesting the open seat in Haku. I was the founding president of Haku women's collective community based organisation in Haku and it is still here. The organisation is still here and the women are behind me in this election because we have done a lot on empowering the youth and the women in Haku and running a lot of training for the women and youth and chiefs as well.
DW: If you make it into parliament what are your aims there?
HH: Yes I only have three points that I am going around with like my platform. The first one prepare and work peacefully with the Haku people towards referendum. And the second one is empowerment for youth women and men. And the third one is improve access to basic services like health education, water and sanitation and human rights.
DW: If we look at say that last one in terms of improving access to those fundamental services. What is it that you would be able to do if you were in parliament?
HH: I have done a survey last year with the federation on the real needs of the women of Bougainville and one of the big issue that the women talks about is water and sanitation. Access to clean water and sanitation. And the other one on health is maternity wards, access to maternity, like bring maternity wards near to where the women are so they will not walk miles to, just to deliver a baby. So I think those are the points that when I go around doing my campaign I talked to the women about. Like maybe we can ask the government to put in the maternity wards attached to the aid posts, so you don't really have to walk hours to go and give birth.
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