Bougainville Women’s Federation launches new hub for women’s empowerment

Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF) is the peak agency for women’s rights and development in Bougainville. To date, there are over 4,000 BWF members representing the 13 districts of Bougainville. Since establishing a Secretariat and electing their first Executive Board in 2012, BWF has grown from strength to strength, and has worked to implement programs to benefit its members and the women of Bougainville as a whole.

One of the aims of BWF has been to address the leadership gap of young women between the ages of 18 and 30. BWF has implemented a Young Women’s Leadership Project for young women in Bougainville, providing a safe space for them to build and develop their leadership skills. First piloted in 2015, Pacific Women now supports this work in partnership with the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).

The training program is the result of recommendations from research conducted by BWF, IWDA and the Australian National University in 2014, “Bougainville Young Women’s Leadership Research.”  The training covers topics such as public speaking, budgeting, networking and developing a public profile. Young women participants will have the opportunity during the program to learn from BWF’s executives and staff engaged in the various programs and activities conducted by BWF, all of which are focused on capacity building of women.

Ms Natasha Stott Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, launched this project and the extension of BWF’s hub facilities during her visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville in February of this year.

The AUD1.4 million Young Women’s Leadership Project will support young women to build leadership skills and confidence to have a greater voice in local and regional government affairs and policy development. It will also continue to build the capacity of the BWF to support and represent the interests of women across the region.

Ambassador Stott Despoja said up to 90 young women will be mentored by 30 facilitators over three years.

“They will then have the opportunity to join the Bougainville Women’s Federation and be part of a sustainable and inclusive body for women across Bougainville,” Ambassador Stott Despoja said.

The Ambassador also acknowledged that the launching of BWF’s facilities will also contribute to supporting women’s leadership.

 “We are delighted that this hub will assist the Federation to strengthen women’s leadership in the region,” Ambassador Stott Despoja said.

Article prepared by DFAT, PNG Post.