Celebrating the achievements of our women partners

International Women’s Day (IWD) is recognised globally on 8 March.  It represents an opportunity to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women while calling for change.

IWD 2018 is a call to action to help forge a better, more gender inclusive working world. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress.

The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), through the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) support women’s economic empowerment, leadership and voice. PHAMA addresses gender throughout program implementation, considering complex gender relations, power and status, and the role of women and men in households and communities.

Anette Sete is one of several women in the Pacific that PHAMA partners with. PC: Elias Nanau

On IWD PHAMA is highlighting some of the remarkable women we work with:

Jacqueline Ruguna is the Strategic Marketing Officer for PNG’s Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC). She is the representative that PHAMA is liaising with to set up the Coffee Industry Working Group. Jacqueline represented coffee producers and their products when she attended the Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council Trade Expo in 2017. As a result, one of the companies successfully secured a deal to export a container of coffee to Australia. Jacqueline also worked with PHAMA to secure silver sponsorship for four of eight international judges who attended the National Coffee Cupping Competition in August 2016.

Amanda Maruruai is a Senior Plants Technical Advisor with PNG’s National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA). She represents NAQIA on the PHAMA-facilitated Steering Committee or Market Access Working Group (MAWG) and has been the NAQIA lead on the fresh produce study as well as the biosecurity activities and training program. Maruruai is an inspiration for PNG women in assuming such a key role that demands strategic and security consciousness in thinking and devising plans to protect plants and animals in PNG.

Shabella Rathamana at the Hatanga Hardwoords timber yard in Honiara, Solomon Islands. PC: Samantha Rina

Shabella Rathamana is the Compliance, Safety and Quality Officer for Hatanga Hardwoods in the Solomon Islands. At 27, she is responsible for ensuring that staff members comply with the company’s safety standards and also that the company complies with market regulations and quality standards. Rathamana recently acknowledged PHAMA for its effort in empowering women through capacity building initiatives and opportunities. One such initiative was PHAMA’s facilitation of a visit to New Zealand for a Memorandum of Understanding on timber legality certification by a delegation of representatives from the Solomon Islands Timber Processors and Exports Association. The delegation included Rathamana and Beryl Pitatina, the yard manager for Pacific Export Alliance Group.

Annette Sete is the owner and founder of C-Print Maku Gifts and is also a representative on the PHAMA handicrafts group discussion.  Maku Gifts is a new player in the handicrafts business. Anette also sells to Carnival Cruise tourists in Kokopo. She says her involvement in the handicraft discussion group placed her in a group of like-minded PNG SMEs and business owners with unique PNG Made products that benefit rural communities. By branching into handicrafts, Anette is providing employment for people and drawing interest for handicrafts among women to develop specific brands for sale.

Monica Otto is the President of Foundation for Women in Development (FOWIAD) and is the Vice Chairperson of the High Value Coconut Products (HVCP) Industry Working Group (IWG).  FOWIAD, a registered non-government organisation based in Maprik, is made up of women who are actively involved in agri-business including virgin coconut oil products. FOWIAD is also involved in conducting training in leadership for women and gender sensitisation. FOWIAD has a membership of over 5,000 members in Central Sepik with successful projects that include Community Notice Board information centres, coconut downstream processing, agriculture small livestock development and grass roots youth sports- funded by DFAT and other initiatives.

Cornelia Wylie is the owner of Vanuatu Direct, a food processing company. With 80 per cent of staff being women, the company has been successful in progressing women’s status and believes in the strong bonds of family and community. An advocate for women and children, Wylie partnered with PHAMA to undertake a Women’s Leadership Pilot. The pilot involved the design of a package of short-term support for selected women team members, with an aim to build their personal leadership skills and in the longer term, become social change agents in their families and communities.


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