Policewomen encouraged to rise, overcome and embrace equity

(Report by Police Media Officer Kari Totona.)

Policewomen in Papua New Guinea have been encouraged to “embrace equity” as part of their future to contribute to developing a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

The encouragement was made by the Acting Commander of the Papua New Guinea Australia Policing Partnership (PNGAPP) Superintendent Brett Kidner in his opening remarks at the International Women’s Day (IWD) observation last week. IWD is a global event celebrated for social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It started in the early 1900’s stemming from the fights for equal rights by women in the United States.

Since the first official IWD in 1911, the movement has grown to be truly a global event with focused themes every year to complement the ongoing global battles to achieve equal pay, equal economic opportunities, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidised childcare and prevention of violence against women and girls.

Superintendent Kidner told a captive audience of policewomen and women representatives from various stakeholders in Port Moresby last Wednesday that a gender responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education can increase the capacity of women and girls who can contribute to the advancements in digital technology progressing achievements to address developmental and humanitarian challenges.

He said with this year’s theme “Embrace Equity”, part of the focus will be to explore the impacts of digital gender gap which is creating social inequalities and highlight the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in the digital space.

Superintendent Kidner thanked the men who attended the event to show their support for women and girls.

“Reflect on your past, acknowledge your present and embrace equity as part of your future to contribute to developing a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive,” Mr Kidner said.

The IWD observation day was hosted by the PNGAPP and included two young guest speakers namely Wendy Tambagle from the Australian High Commission and Deputy Public Prosecutor (Administration and Special Projects) Helen Roalakona of the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP).

In her speech, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ms Roalakona said it was important to acknowledge the male folks who also bring that level of equity into recognising women.

She said there will be many challenges that will push women to work twice as hard as men, not only because the work demands it, but because women can rise up to the challenge and overcome it.

“Today I want to encourage my women folk to embrace and celebrate their strengths. Do not be afraid to step out and step up. It’s okay to have the spotlight on you and I know we get burdened by our daily duties of being a mother, wife and being a career women.

“Let’s celebrate those instead of looking down on them and let’s embrace our male folks that assist us in achieving the goals we set as women, achieving that balance in our lives, and encouraging us to step up and always achieve our goals,” Ms Roalakona said.

Ms Roalakona is amongst 19 females in the OPP as legal officers and gazetted state prosecutors. There were only seven females in the OPP team in 2010 when she joined after graduating from the University of Papua New Guinea with a Bachelor of Law.

She said, “That is something I celebrate a lot because of the recognition of the ability of the women to be able to get into their career and profession such as a prosecutor and it’s not an easy job…”

Ms Roalakona has come a long way within a short space of time. She joined the OPP as a legal officer in 2010. Two years later she was appointed as Acting Team Leader for the Family Sexual Offences Unit with UNPP. She was then tasked with establishing an OPP office in Alotau, Milne Bay province before she was recalled to Port Moresby to lead the Serious Corruption and Dishonesty Unit.

“It’s about loving the person you are, celebrating your strengths and challenging yourselves with your weaknesses and being a better person than you were yesterday,” Ms Roalakona said.

The IWD falls on the 8th of March every year to focus on women’s rights and to inspire people to act in the ongoing fight for gender equality.