This is a special Women in Politics series for the Australia-PNG Network, in which the Lowy Institute's Jessica Collins sits down with prominent women from Papua New Guinea (PNG) to discuss the deep-seated challenge of women’s political representation in the country.
In this third episode, Jessica speaks with Damarise Bonga, a female candidate in the upcoming 2022 national election. Damarise shares her experience of running unsuccessfully in a prior election, and talks about the broader challenges for women trying to represent their communities in parliament. She says a fundamental issue lies in how people (both men and women) perceive leadership in PNG, and how this continues to be a significant barrier to balanced representation in the country.
“In politics, in PNG it’s quite different … They think that the Parliament is … hausman in Tok Pisin, meaning that it’s a house for man. And that’s kind of bias, you know.”
Join Jessica and Damarise as they talk about how women can be more successful in future elections, including Damarise’s views on all-women political parties and decentralising women’s political leadership development programs.
Damarise Bonga is planning to contest Papua New Guinea’s upcoming national election. Damarise recently graduated from Papua New Guinea’s Political Leadership Academy for Women in Port Moresby as one of many students in its first cohort. She also served as the appointed women's representative to the Oro Provincial Assembly and supported the PNG Special Parliamentary Committee on their public sector reform and service delivery programs.
Jessica Collins is a Research Fellow in the Pacific Islands Program and Aus-PNG Network at the Lowy Institute. Her research interests cover foreign aid and development policy in Pacific Island nations (particularly for Pacific women), Pacific migration, remittance policy, and Myanmar’s humanitarian and refugee challenges. Prior to joining the Institute, Jessica completed a PhD in Anthropology at the Queensland University of Technology. Jessica also holds a Master of Global Development from Griffith University. Her Honours research project, completed at the Queensland University of Technology, explored diasporic life for Samoans living in Brisbane, and her undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney focused on the anthropology of the Pacific.