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Hearing the voice of women leaders and promoting the role they play in society was the aim of the recent Hela Women’s Forum

Gender Programme Manager, Danielle Winfrey leads a group discussion with the participants of the Hela Women’s Forum.

The women of Hela met with their Governor, Hon. Philip Undialu, Provincial Administrator, Public Servants, Head of Security Forces and Development partners in a form that was the first of its kind in Hela.

Advocating for peace, security and stability was the theme of this historical event, that saw Hela women leaders come from all three Districts of the Province (Komo-Magarima, Tari-Pori and Koroba- Kopiago) to share their ideas and raise their concerns.

Demonstrating the importance of the forum the women of Hela turned up in numbers with some of them walking up to three days from very remote villages.

Women and youth leaders were given an opportunity to speak openly about their issues and challenges faced, such as the on-going tribal fights, lawlessness and killings that cause them to live in fear. A moment of silence was also observed on the first day for those women and children who had tragically lost their lives.

Discussions were held on how women can work together with provincial leaders and development partners to foster peace and reconciliation in bringing about a Hela that was secure and stable. This would enable women to engage in activities that contribute to economic empowerment and access to health and education services.

Another focus of the gathering was about how women can take advantage of the small to medium enterprise lending opportunities that are being introduced by their Provincial Government.

Chair of the Hela Women’s Forum, Sergent Alice Ariko in her opening remarks said,

“Now is the time for Hela Women to have a voice and tell the government and development partners what our issues are. One voice will not be heard, united voices will be heard. Let us put aside our differences and start working together. Let us start by being agents of change today, for the women and children of Hela”.
- Sergent Alice Ariko Chair of the Hela Women’s Forum

“It was encouraging to see the women leaders of Hela step up collectively to address issues affecting their home.  They came up with practical recommendations to the government and development partners to achieve real change.” said Ariko

“We are grateful to our partners like OSF, UN Women, the Australian Government, Pacific Women Support Unit and JSS4d who supported us to stage this very important event in the province. Whilst we acknowledge their support, we are also appreciative of the work they all do in Hela” added Governor Philip Undialu.

OSF Executive Director, Stephanie Copus-Campbell said, “OSF has been working in Hela Province for many years and especially over the past 6 years has developed strong partnerships which has underpinned all of the Foundation’s work.