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Voices on the Ground: Human Rights Defenders Workshop

  • Dream Inn Hotel Waigani Drive Port Moresby, National Capital District Papua New Guinea (map)

Reframing Gendered Violence Human Rights Defenders Workshop “Voices on the Ground” in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) Building Safer Communities Program and the Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University, are conducting a workshop on Reframing Gendered Violence in Port Moresby. The Reframing Gendered Violence workshop in Port Moresby stems from the Center for the Study of Social Difference’s annual seminar that is conducted at the Columbia University in New York. This program brings speakers to talk about how gender based violence is understood and addressed in different contexts.

“Part of CSSD’s Women Creating Change projects, the Reframing Gendered Violence working group engages critically with the terms, assumptions, and policies that have underwritten this unprecedented outpouring of attention. When invoked in the United Nations and used to shape international policy, VAW and GBV are often assumed to have stable meanings, yet they do not. What do different parties mean when they talk of violence against women or of gender-based violence? Do they focus primarily on sexual violence, occurring in domestic settings? What is left out when the problem is framed in this way, and whose interests are served by such a framing?” (Europe Journal, 2017). The focus of the workshop is on the recently launched ‘Human Rights Defenders’ Association. Therefore, the aim of the workshop is to create a space where the human rights defenders can tell their own stories.

The theme of the workshop is ‘Voices on the ground,’ to encourage participation and telling of the story by the Human Rights Defenders.

Briefly, the HRDs are community leaders based in Port Moresby who were trained by UNWomen to become human rights defenders. Most were community activists well before they were trained and named as HRDs. Many wear ‘different hats’, as village courts officials, community mobilisers, and justice community leaders apart from HRD. Despite many challenges, these community leaders have been preventing and addressing human rights issues, including gender based violence in their communities for many years. There are approximately 230 Port Moresby based HRDs.

Some of the discussion points include:

• HRD’s work before they were recognized and trained by UNWomen?

• What are some preventive and response method they use to address GBV in their communities?

• How would they describe themselves before, compared to now?

• What are some challenges they face in their communities?

• What can we learn from the experiences of HRDs?

The NRI will be documenting the stories of the HRD and submitting a joint publication with the Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University. The learnings from this workshop, will capture the HRD’s stories and how they prevent and address GBV within their communities.

Workshop speakers include:

Fiona Hukula
Mary Fairo
Paige West
Agnes Rau
Linda Tule
Khanu Gibson
Cathy Amalu
Sabet Peter
Janet Awe
Madlin Po’o
Sala Samuel
Margaret Au