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USAID recently launched a new peace building project that will better enable women’s civil society organizations in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea to address major social issues that have resulted from a decade-long conflict.
The two-year Women’s Peace Building Initiative, implemented in partnership with Counterpart International, aims to empower women to secure peace and sustain development in the region. The program targets gender-based violence, women’s rights, and the resulting trauma counseling needs of both men and women - all of which severed Bougainville’s ability to recover and rehabilitate into the flourishing region that it can be.
Pictured in the photo above from left to right, USAID Pacific Islands Regional Office Director Maurice Knight, U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Ambassador Walter E. North, Counterpart International Chief of Party Wilson Monori, Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Community Development Minister Melchior Dare, and ABG Acting President John Tabinanman.
USAID Philippines and Pacific Islands Deputy Program Officer Nora Pinzon and Autonomous Bougainville Government, Community Development Division, Minister Melchior Dare stand amongst representatives from local women’s civil society organizations. Women’s groups are working with government, international, and private sector representatives to advance a bold agenda of empowering women by expanding health, education, and economic opportunities.
Women were among the most affected during the civil war in the Bougainville region. The increased risk of rape, torture and abuse restricted their movements and ability to express their views. Lack of access to healthcare increased maternal and infant mortality rates; but it was the women who effectively supported the peace movement that contributed to the end of the conflict.
Women-led civil society groups continue to play a key role in the region’s recovery process today.
Local women welcome the U.S. Government delegation to their community. Their festive greeting complemented U.S.Ambassador Walter E. North’s hopeful remarks at the Women’s Peace Building Initiative launch, where he said “Women play a significant role in keeping the peace in our societies. The U.S.Government is pleased to work with local government, civil society organizations, and other development partners to unlock the potential of women to serve as agents of change and inspire lasting development in their communities.”
Josephine Kauona (right) survived the Bougainville conflict and is now a leading advocate for peace, reconciliation, and women’s rights within the region. She founded the Tunainya Open Learning Center to coordinate life skills training with a special interest that targets illiteracy. Her husband, Sam Kauna (left) was a commander during the conflict and now works alongside his wife to heal their wounded community and promote peace and prosperity in the region.
USAID Pacific Islands Regional Office Director Maurice Knight stands with a group of children. Thanks to the local organizations that are working to promote peace in the region, this new generation of youth can look forward to a brighter future, where they can pursue education and opportunities for livelihood, and ultimately contribute to growth and stability in their community.
Last updated: February 13, 2015