The Chair of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender Based Violence, Charles Abel, partnered with the Co-Chairs of the Coalition of Parliamentarians to End GBV, Governor Allan Bird and Governor Powes Parkop.
Together, Abel, Parkop and Bird hosted a meeting with development partners to discuss the Report on GBV recently tabled in Parliament by the Committee and to discuss next steps for making sure that PNG parliamentarians are supported to continue to advocate for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence.
Hon Abel noted that, “Our Committee has provided concrete recommendations in the GBV Report we tabled in Parliament and we now need to see action. We have recently letters to the Treasurer calling on him to provide proper budget funding for the National GBV Strategy. Quite frankly, at an absolute minimum, we want to see more funding going towards NGOs because we know they are doing so much of the frontline GBV crisis response work that survivors need.”
He went on to note: “The good news is that I believe our advocacy is already making a difference. We have been very pleased to read in the newspapers that the courts are handing down some very tough sentences on GBV and SARV perpetrators recently and we are glad about that. Perpetrators of violence cannot keep getting away with these bad acts.”
The MPs expressed their appreciation to development partners for joining them to discuss the Committee Report on GBV and opportunities for partnership.
Representatives from the United Nations, as well as the High Commissioners from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, the Ambassador for the United States, and senior officials from the Australian High Commission and the European Union all met with the Chairs, who were also supported by Governor Undialu from Hela Province, who is a member of the Coalition.
Governor Bird thanked partners for joining with them and noted that now was the perfect time for development partners to strengthen their support for home-grown GBV efforts. He noted, “In my time as an MP, I can see that there has been a real shift amongst this current group of MPs regarding issues of GBV and violence against women and children.
More MPs have taken this issue up and want to use their power to make a difference. But it is critical that we get support now to move forward as we only have 9 months left of this term. We need to urgently institutionalise this work – including through establishment of the Parliamentary GBV Committee as a permanent body – so that this work can continue to tap into MPs even after the next elections”.
The MPs brought with them a funding proposal, requesting support from donors to enable MPs to more effectively work together – nationally but also in their home provinces – to address GBV. Funding would be used to support the GBV Committee, but also the Coalition of MPs to End GBV, and to support key GBV activities driven by MPs, including another National GBV Summit.
Governor Parkop stressed the urgent need to create mechanisms and structures in place so that the work of the GBV Committee and the Coalition can continue. “We need to sustain this programme within our time and beyond our time in the parliament.
This is the number one priority. Human rights Issue in our country and we need provincial strategies for sustainability. This momentum needs to be supported.”
He also outlined the Committee’s intention to relook at and review the current GBV Strategy for gaps in the system. “It is time for everyone to come together and work to achieve our Constitutional vision of a nation where men and women, boys and girls, stand together, to end gender-inequality and violence”, said Governor Parkop.
Development partners were unanimous in commending the MPs for their efforts to date, highlighting the important work done by the Committee in the last few months, to produce a comprehensive set of recommendations for consideration by Government. The Report can act as a blueprint for action, and can also help guide partners own efforts.
The Parliamentary Committee on GBV was set up in 2020 and their Report on GBV which can be accessed on their webpage at https://www.unitedforequalitypng.com/gbv-parl-committee. The Coalition was also set up in 2020 and is made up of 20 Members of Parliament who are committed to ending GBV. More information can be found at https://www.unitedforequalitypng.com.
The Committee and Coalition extended their appreciation to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which has provided technical support to the Coalition and Committee as part of its gender programming and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. This support aims to address GBV and support longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.