PNG women find new career path in Defence Force
A career in the defence force is now a reality for women in Papua New Guinea, with the country's first four female army officers put through a rigorous training exercise.
A career in the Defence Force is now a reality for women in Papua New Guinea, with the country's first four female army officers having undergone a rigourous training exercise.
New Zealand Army Captain Anika Tiplady has just returned from PNG where she helped mentor participants at the Defence Academy including the first intake of females.
Captain Tiplady told Bridget Tunnicliffe it's a real breakthrough.
ANIKA TIPLADY: It was a big deal and I really enjoyed it, and I think the men and women appreciated having support from the New Zealand Defence Force as part of their instructor team. I really enjoyed influencing the training mentoring the young women that are over there.
BRIDGE TUNNICLIFFE: Do you think it would be a little bit daunting for those women to be on that course?
AT: I do think it is pretty daunting. They're entering a pretty tough environment just because they don't have senior officers that are women in the PNG Defence Force, so they're the first to go through. So it is going to be a real challenge for them.
BT: Is this because the PNG Defence Force has recently opened it up to women or have women just not applied before?
AT: No, I believe they've just recently opened up the commissioning option for women, so they've got a few applicants and they've got, at the moment, a few very good girls that are going through the programme.
BT: What were your other jobs over there?
AT: Well, my job when I was there was to help instruct their leadership training programme, for example, field phases and tactics and military history, those sorts of things, and one of those modules was leadership. And a lot of what they actually teach is based on what we teach in New Zealand. And I've had a little bit of experience in that area so, yeah, I was there assisting in their leadership.
BT: I read that it was the first officer training in the country that they'd had for 10 years. Could you tell it had been a while?
AT: Yeah. They're doing a really good job, but for one reason or another they hadn't been able to run that course in the country for that time. They've been graduating officers, but the officers have been trained in other countries, such as New Zealand and Australia. So they've had the officers, but not the numbers they want. And so the training has been difficult for them to re-establish what is a pretty intense course.
BT: And would you expect we'll see a lot more women in the defence force in Papua New Guinea?
AT: I think so. When we were operating on our field phase of the leadership programme, we were in a small village, and when we were walking through the small village I had numerous women come up to me saying 'How do I get into the PNG Defence Force?' or mothers telling their daughters 'Right, you need to go to school now because see those girls, you can be that person'. So hopefully just in a small way, by seeing people in uniform, women in uniform, that will help influence more women to apply. If those individuals have the right motivation and the right skill sets I think it will be a great career path for young women.
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