A little bit of history
In 2015 we celebrated 40 years of women in the public service. Early leaders recognised the important and place of women in nation building. Upon independence our founding father Grand Chief Michael Somare appointed Mrs Tamo Diro as the first female adviser to guide the government’s efforts to accelerate progress towards the rapid increase of women’s participation in all aspects of nation building. In keeping with his commitment, the Grand Chief also appointed the late Dame Rose Kekedo to be the first female Head of the Department of Family and Community Services and by 1980 a women’s unit was established in the same department. Following the 1982 Waigani Seminar’s critique of the lack of government planning and policy for women’s enhancement, the National Women’s Development Program was funded by the Government from 1984 to 1987. This project led to the approval of PNG’s first National Women’s Policy in 1991. By the mid 1980’s the country saw an increase of female graduates from tertiary colleges and universities – the majority of these women were absorbed into the PNG public sector.
PNG Women in the Public Service
The public sector remains the largest employer of women yet the statistics are small – women comprise only 35% of the workforce and many are in the education and health sectors. At the national level only 23% of decision making positions are held by women. For the first time however, there are now four female Secretaries in substantive positions in key agencies: Community Development, National Planning, Internal Revenue and Industrial Relations.
The impact of women on the public service at the national level is increasing and there is a growing recognition of the contribution that women make to good management and leadership roles in the public sector. There is much more yet to be done particularly at the provincial and district levels.
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