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Current situation

Gender equality is a significant challenge in PNG, and systemic violations of women’s rights exist throughout the country.

In 2014, Papua New Guinea ranked 140 out of 155 countries of the Gender Inequality Index. Women and girls have substantially less access to health care and education services than males. Furthermore, women are vastly under represented at all levels of government (only 3 out of 111 Parliamentarians are women), limiting their power to influence public policy and voice issues.

In rural and urban areas, Papua New Guinean men commonly hold onto their traditional cultural practices, where tribal discipline and power is given to men to have authority over their clan and family members.

Men make most of the decisions in the family and control most of the resources, and women are expected to conform to various societal rules and norms, often having their basic rights denied. 

Girls and women are often viewed as commodities used in exchange for money, gifts and to resolve tribal disputes. This leaves them vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, which has become endemic in PNG society. Violence against women and gender-based violence is unacceptably high, with an estimated two out of three women having personally experienced violence.

Key interventions

The Gender program in UNFPA is focused on:

  1. preventing violence against women and increasing the number of reported and prosecuted cases in PNG;
  2. strengthening the National Council of Women’s machinery;
  3. having guidelines and protocols in place for health workers to care for survivors of GBV; and
  4. advocacy on issues related to gender. Apart from working with the National Constabulary and Health Department to develop policies and training manuals, UNFPA has also supported the training of health workers and police force to care for survivors of GBV and maintain a database of reported cases. 
  5. Assist in the development of legislation and policies to assist in accessing SRH services and care