March 8, 2019

International Womens Day 2019 | Meet Olive in Papua New Guinea

International Women’s Day 2019



Papua New Guinea has more cultural and environmental diversity than anywhere else. With 800 languages and a dizzying mix of dense rainforest, coastal mangroves and alpine woodland, it is fascinatingly unique. 

Life is not without its daily difficulties in this beautiful place. It has been described as ‘one of the most dangerous places in the world to live as a woman’ with two-thirds suffering from domestic abuse. 

Fighting gender inequity is one of the most pernicious, global challenges that need nothing less than a step-change in unfair and outdated social attitudes. But it also requires progressive legal frameworks and sustainable initiatives that promote equality between women and men.

International Women's Day logo over image of Wabumari village


Olive is a single parent with one child. She lives in a village that is part of a Cool Earth partnership in Papua New Guinea, where a micro-credit scheme is helping balance the books when it comes to women’s access to income. In the K20 challenge, women are given 20 Kina, the equivalent of £5 or £7 and are challenged to make a profit, and pass the original K20 onto another woman to continue the challenge.

Olive is one of the pioneers of this scheme and used the money to buy a bale of rice and one sack of sugar biscuits to sell in the local market. From these products alone, Olive earned K240. Some of this profit was saved and she has reinvested the rest to buy more rice and sugar, plus tinned fish, coffee, milk and laundry soap. After just a few weeks, Olive has K100 in her savings account and has passed K20 to the next challenge participant.

It’s not just a day-to-day income. The best thing about schemes like this is the resilience it gives women so they can manage their finances long-term and plan their future.

Promoting gender equality doesn’t just bring economic benefits. Addressing imbalance has potentially vast environmental and ecological benefits too.

Islands in the tropics are disproportionately impacted by climate change and related extreme weather events. A fact not lost on Papua New Guinea which is already facing the impacts of sea level rise. Empowering women to be equal economic agents increases the resilience of vulnerable communities as a whole. It means more money for emergencies and better financial planning skills – vital parts of any climate resilience strategy.

On International Women’s Day, #BalanceForBetter is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world. Cool Earth knows that effective conservation isn’t possible without putting women’s rights first.

By supporting Cool Earth, you’re not only protecting at risk rainforest, you’re making the future more balanced, for everyone.


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