Women driving buses? Why not?!
From driving buses to raising chickens, women across the island are breaking down gender stereotypes while building economic independence and security.
Something new is happening on the streets of Papua New Guinea: Women are driving buses.
On the other side of the capital city of Port Moresby, single mothers are raising chicks to sell at the local market.
Across the island nation, women are breaking down gender stereotypes while building economic independence and security.
That’s important in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where sexual and gender-based violence is endemic. An estimated two out of every three women have experienced some form of violence (UNFPA).
Women and girls have limited access to health care and education and are vastly under represented at all levels of government. In both rural and urban areas, traditional cultural practices prevail, where men have authority over their clan and family members.
Large gender gaps leave many Papua New Guinean women unable to escape the cycles of violence and oppression that bind them to poverty.
Alongside local partners, Canada’s High Commission in Australia is providing job training for marginalized women. Economic independence is a crucial step to realizing women’s rights and gender equality.
Single mothers are forging their own futures
PNG’s Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF) selected women from three settlements in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, to receive chicks and chicken sheds through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).
20 single mothers each received 50 chicks, chicken feed, materials, as well as new or refurbished chicken sheds. Once the chicks grow, the mothers can sell the chickens and eggs at local markets. Bank South Pacific also provided the women with basic financial literacy training, which included how to make a budget and bookkeeping.
Because the 20 women now have a guaranteed source of income from the CFLI project, the Development Bank of Papua New Guinea has provided the women with micro-finance loans, which they can use to open their own stores or market stalls and buy items to sell, like betel nut or cigarettes.
The National Development Bank and YEF are planning to scale-up this project and provide micro-loans to an additional 50 women.
Sexual violence training also accompanied this project, which helped the women learn about their rights. This training is extremely necessary for women to stand their ground in a workforce dominated by men.
Women driving buses? Why not?!
Bus driving is typically perceived as a man’s job in Papua New Guinea.
But 48 women in Port Moresby are changing that.
Through the CFLI, the Ginigoada Foundation provided the first-ever bus driver training program for women.
A fleet of second-hand buses donated by the Australian government were the perfect training vehicles. Eight groups of six women spent three weeks learning how to safely maneuver the roads and carry passengers to their destinations.
The training will allow the women to find jobs as certified drivers for big bus companies or run their own transport services. Of the first 36 women trained, six have already found jobs driving buses in and around Port Moresby.
“We want more women to say, ‘Yes I can do this’, and take away some of the perceived restrictions that says you’re not good enough.”
In addition to the women’s economic independence, the project challenges gender norms and helps redefine what is considered “women’s work”.
Women will change the world
Canada is a global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, both at home and abroad.
With partners like the Youth Empowerment Foundation and the Ginigoada Foundation, the High Commission of Canada to Australia will continue to prioritize the empowerment of women and girls. Small contributions through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives can have a huge impact for marginalized communities around the world.
Protecting women’s rights and gender equality is the only way to support sustainable economic growth and social progress. The world is ready for women and girls to reach their full potential.
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