THE author of ‘Let the C word Run Free: Desperately Seeking Collaboration’ has now made the C word come to life.
Much collaboration has now culminated in this anthology – a first for all the women of Papua New Guinea.
Rashmii Amoah Bell, a well read and articulate essayist, is the esteemed editor of this new body of work. Copies of the essays she has written can be seen on the PNG Attitude blog.
In all of her well-articulated and sometimes satirical essays, the one thing that comes out most often is her patriotism and heart for her country – Papua New Guinea.
It was in 2015 that her essay on the C word was penned. One year later this book was born.
This anthology, entitled My Walk to Equality, is a book inspired by Goal 10 of the United Nations sustainable development goals. World leaders got together in the year 2000 to make the Millennium Declaration. At the same time there was commitment to promote an equal and just world.
Goal 10 is about ending inequalities around the globe. The world has seen success on some fronts, but progress is slow on others. In PNG, one of the most observed inequalities is the status of women in the community.
At this time when the developed nations of the world are increasingly pushing for gender neutrality, the women of Papua New Guinea are emerging from under a masculine society – a system born from a harsh environment where women can only find safety with their male relatives.
The women in PNG are starting to find their voice and slowly extending their domains in their society.
This anthology captures candid realities facing the women of PNG; their struggles, their fears, their dilemmas and their questions with regard to their emerging sense of self. This book is a compilation of such stories on this walk toward greater integration in society.
The book is important because it is a work by Papua New Guinea women writers who are not afraid to put their experiences down as a reference for the future. Women from all walks of life are given the space to share their life stories.
In the reading of this book, both women and men are invited to participate in the experiences with the hope that this insight will help society bring back the balance the way nature intended men and women to be.
The contributors to the anthology are doubly special. The women of this generation (which is also my generation) are indeed the last keepers of the ways of their fathers. Most of us were born just before independence or shortly thereafter and therefore lack the oppressive memories of colonialism.
This group of women is not yet too immersed in the glamour of the west to shun our roots. We have inherited our culture from our parents at a time when change is happening very fast. Our daughters and children will not have an understanding of their culture like we do. And the generations thereafter will eventually lose that knowledge. They will become citizens of the world. It is our duty to document some of our life story for posterity.
The challenge for the Papua New Guinean woman today is in effectively telling her story. This is where it is a bonus for Papua New Guinea to have women like Rashmii, who has a keen feel for words and can articulate them so they can be understood by those who need to hear the story.
Through her pen and her words, Rashmii has become a spokeswoman for the sisterhood in Papua New Guinea.
Rashmii has articulated sentiments which indigenous Papua New Guinean women have had a hard time expressing, and she is understood because she speaks in the language of Keith Jackson, Phil Fitzpatrick. Ed Brumby, Barbara Short, Paul Oates and all those people whose physical body may be elsewhere but their hearts are in Papua New Guinea.
Rashmii contributes the women’s voice to the already notable work of other Papua New Guineans like Michael Dom, Martyn Namorong, Daniel Kumbon, Mathias Kin, Francis Nii and Gary Juffa, to name a few.
There are also women writers, both established and emerging. Take time to read the anthology and get to know them. These women must be supported as active contributors and influencers in the process of social change.
Though I have never met Rashmii in person, through our passion for writing and social justice I feel that we are kindred spirits, like so many other people the PNG Attitude blog has brought together - virtually.
PNG Attitude has served as a forum for validating concerns raised by Papua New Guineans, whose voices may otherwise float into oblivion without being examined.
I am honoured to write this foreword to the anthology because I believe in the message it has for Papua New Guinea and the world.
Women’s issues are close to my heart, after all I am a Papua New Guinean woman living through the challenges. I am a culmination of all the women who have existed before me. And I have sisters and nieces and girl children who will walk through this same environment.
Like Rashmii, I am just a spokesperson for my country. Through my writing on my blog and elsewhere, I hope to make some sense of the challenges faced in Papua New Guinea.
In conclusion, I wish for the C word to be embraced more by both men and women; only then will we see progress in our programs, projects and initiatives because many eyes and many minds and many ideas will result in comprehensive outputs.
Collaboration, therefore, is the answer to finding solutions to our problems including women’s issues. Let the spirit of collaboration run free among us.
A respected writer and commentator, Tanya Zeriga-Alone was born in Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands Province and is the lead researcher with the Port Moresby-based Menggeyao Morobe Consultancy. Tanya graduated from the Australian National University in environmental science and has worked extensively in that field as an academic and researcher