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Old 10-03-2006, 04:53 PM
meripng meripng is offline
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International Women's Day - 8 March

O n Wednesday this week, the Western Highlands Women’s Rural Empowerment (WHWRE) group received a Human Rights Award for their activities aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of children. The group, which formed in 2002 currently has a membership of over 100,000 women spread throughout the seven districts and 15 local level governments in the Western Highlands Province.

The WHWRE human rights project involves registering the birth of all children under five years of age, training and educating families on family planning methods and benefits, and training village court magistrates on human rights issues. Funding for the project was provided through the Australian Government’s Human Rights Small Grants Scheme, which is aimed at strengthening and developing human rights in PNG.

Speaking at the award presentation ceremony, Executive Director of the Western Highlands Rural Women’s Empowerment group, Ms Nancy Rus, said that she was very happy and excited about receiving the award. The award was presented by the Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Mr Michael Potts, at the ‘International Women’s Day event, hosted by the
Australian High Commission.

International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8. It provides an opportunity for communities to recognise the achievements of
women and their contribution to society. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was ‘Women in Decision Making’. Speaking at the event, Mr Potts said that the Australian Government is committed to supporting PNG’s goals to promote gender equality and address some of the challenges impacting on the lives of
women and girls.

“On this day, the people of PNG must celebrate the progress that has been made in progressing women’s rights, but also contemplate those areas of women's lives where more can be done - including improving women's access to education, health care and paid labour.”

Mr Potts also highlighted the effect violence and the HIV epidemic is having on women living in PNG. “Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to
HIV/AIDS. This vulnerability is not only biological, but is also due to women’s low socioeconomic status and high levels of gender based violence.”

Ms Potts said women and girls cannot be equal partners when they are subjected to violence. “Equality for women and men and stopping violence
must be a priority for PNG. The underlying message is about good governance and ensuring that all of the population are participating in, and benefiting
from development.”

As a prominent woman working within PNG’s public service, Ms Ulato Avei, Acting Deputy Secretary for the Department of National Planning and
Monitoring, provided the keynote address detailing the role she plays in decision making, in particular in the development and implementation of
Government policy. The Australian Government is committed to supporting PNG’s goals to promote gender equality and address some of the challenges impacting on the lives of women.

In particular, to address violence towards women and girls, AusAID currently supports the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee – under the Central Monitoring and Implementation Committee; and supports House Ruth, a welfare/refuge centre for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Photo: From L-R: Mrs Nancy Rus, President of WHWRE group, Ms Ulato Avei, Deputy Secretary for the Department of National Planning and Deahne Turnbull, Co-ordinator of the IWD event.
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