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inequity is one of the most pernicious, global challenges that need nothing less than a step-change in unfair and outdated social attitudes.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.
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.