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19 March 2019


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Rashmii Bell

No, I understood Philip Kai Morre's comments perfectly well.

Mathias and Philip - here's an idea: how about you both prepare articles based on selection criteria you deem fit and satisfies you to your heart's content?

Then have it run here on PNG Attitude and see whether I will challenge either of you about the worthiness of your nominees.

You'll find that I won't because, whilst I might not agree with your choices, 1) I respect that every person, especially women, deserves to have their contributions recognised and 2) I respect the time every writer invests in producing content to share with others on this blog, irrespective of my personal feeling towards them.

The misogyny this article has generated sickens me to my core.

I am exhausted by the subvert and overt personal attacks against me.

I am horrified that despite the efforts by the countless contributors of this blog who write on issues for the true advancement of PNG women, the daily information sharing, knowledge and education is still not sinking in for some.

Mathias Kin

Hello Philip - You have been a great man, your heart is always in place and you speak your mind on any issue.

It is unfortunate that your comment on Rashmii's article has been misunderstood by many.

I do agree that there are women of status and standing everywhere in PNG and particularly in our mountains as you alluded to. You named some of them.

And I also agree with your main point about the criteria used in the selection. However I don't want to drag it out here as I might be belted too.

Stay strong and keep speaking your heart.

Philip Kai Morre

I thank all those who accused me for my comment, and I take what you wrote positively.

All your commends are authentic and I learn from criticism and feedback whether positive or negative.

Rashmii Bell

Roxanne, Betty and Elvina - many thanks for your comments.

Irrespective of what Philip Kai Morre thinks, you all are remarkable women whose impact and influence I have observed and continue to witness evolving. Keep going!

Philip Kai More or anyone else who has a problem with me not working" in silence" or " boasting" are best taking their grievances to KJ, Phil, Gummi Fridriksson, Murray Bladwell, Bob Clelland, Lindsay Bond, Ed Brumby and Charlie Lynn OL OAM.

As male champions of mine, they've continually invested in me that I've been placed situations where I am reminded that women must highlight their achievements, or face the alternative - being silenced or ignored.

I don't need to reiterate that as a direct result of their investment, a lot of my NOT working in silence has meant that a lot of information, inspiration, commentary and debate that I have produced has been shared with many Papua New Guineans for their benefit also.

Elvina Ogil

Philip Kai Morre - 'My Walk to Equality' was and remains a landmark publication - contributed to by women across PNG, of varying ages and antecedents.

Rashmii was the author but many many PNG women contributed and their contributions made it what it is - the first anthology of women's literature in PNG. It isn't "her book" nor is it a step in a popularity contest as you so crudely allude to in your comment.

Rashmii and Keith's piece was not meant to be exhaustive and had you read it in context, you perhaps would have appreciated its intent better.

Finally, this whole "women should be humble" trope you're peddling is tired. It's 2019. Retire the misogyny and bring something new to the discussion.

Betty Gabriel Wakia

Philip Kai Morre, we would love to know about the women you have mentioned in your comment. I think you should write an article about them too. PNG women writers are here to promote other women's achievements.

Here I have mentioned 6 powerful inspirational PNG women in my article. I would love to add some of them.

Roxanne Aila

Thank you Rashmii for sharing and for your support. Not only to me, but to many aspiring writers in PNG.

I also find your Philip Kai Morre's comments offensive. Yes actually you are knocking me/us. Please don't make assumptions on my background or other women here and make snap judgements and take away from my sincere efforts or my colleagues.

Recognise genuine intention to support the growth and development in PNG and abroad. Does it matter if someone is from an 'elite' background or a grassroots background If the end goal is the same?

We want and all agree that we need to support literacy, education and work collectively to support PNG. No one is stopping you from writing and sharing your thoughts on women breaking ceilings in PNG if you think I am not worthy or my colleagues.

In fact, please share them. We need more stories to educate and empower women and work towards gender equality.

For every woman breaking glass ceilings there are many who cannot see the ceilings. Do your bit to shine a light and support all women making their way in their world instead of being highly critical or what is.

Rashmii Bell

Philip Kai Morre - "But let me move on to those eleven Papua New Guinean women who, through PNG Attitude and the MWTE Project, I consider innovators in their national and international contributions to achieving gender equality."

That's the measurement and matrix you're seeking - had you bothered to read, pause and digest my words.

I don't use anyone to capitalise on my writing. I produce content - I write.

Regularly. And I seek the platform of PNG Attitude to publish.

I also gave you my blueprint last week, in case you forgot.

Don't waste my time again. This is the last time I will respond to your uninformed, baseless criticism.

Philip Kai Morre

What sort of measurement and matrix are we using to select those 12 women who may be standing tall among other women in PNG. You only select those women whom you know best but how about others.

Rashmii is getting popular for her book, 'My walk to Equality' but they are women giants who achieve their work silently.

They don't boast about themselves but let others talk about them. They are many women who achieve their dreams in all works of life.

In Simbu we have many women who are writers, advocates and academics like Sarah Garap, and Roslyn Tony. Women advocates like Elizabeth Cox have done so much for both nationally and internationally. Sarah Garap is an author of a book and Roslyn Tony is one of the contributors towards 'My Walk to Equality' but who will acknowledge her plus other contributors whom Rashmii is capitalising on.

Philip, your comment is unfair. I asked Rashmii to nominate her own women heroes and she did. You have just nominated some of your own, which is also good. We do not promote women by dragging down other women. If you wish to write an article on high achieving Chimbu women and girls, I would welcome that - and the same for any other reader who wants to pay tribute to the remarkable women who hold PNG together and make it a better place - KJ

Philip Fitzpatrick

I'm familiar with the work of most of the women in Rashmii's list but I don't know much about Mary Kini.

Would it be possible to find out more about her Elizabeth?

Rashmii Bell

An important piece as a result of great collaboration - thanks KJ.

It's interesting this notion of 'invented here' and the hypocrisy of which I've seen it play out just recently.

Another diaspora-led, non- literary project that has been rather invisible and inconsistent in its contributions to public discourse about gender inequality in PNG received significant endorsement and sponsorship to stage a public event.

This, in my opinion, confirms that it's not what you do say, but rather what you don't say, that will get you funding. Clearly, its also about 'networks' and abiding by the 'rules' at all times - in effect, discouraging authentic self-representation.

Nevertheless, as I mentioned in my recent 'crazy blueprint' piece, it's best to function with no illusions about who is genuine about supporting literary endeavours for PNGns.

This applies to the institutions, organisations, as well as individuals. The goal is to move forward, not continue in circles waiting in vain for acceptance, approval, inclusion and funding. Nurturing the existing, mutually respectful relationships reigns priority.

As Phil has described, the necessity of hearing the voices of past times/ present day marginalised PNG women illustrates the significance of reviving the Crocodile Prize and the future anthology publications by MWTE or that by high school students as the project facilitated by Alphonse Huvi in Bougainville.

Of course, there are and have been obstacles to reaching the rural and remote communities and this is where innovative activity (highlighted above) might inform, encourage and facilitate participation, providing an opportunity for PNG girls and women to write in their own words about their lived experiences of gender inequality, and hopes for its dismantling.

I can be reached on if anyone would like to make contact with the 11 women profiled.

Elizabeth Cox

Mary Kini has no elite connections. She is well networked with grassroots activists and human rights defenders across PNG and the wider Pacific.

Thank you Rashmii for honouring Mary. Twenty years of selfless work. So much hardship, so much struggle.

In solidarity, I salute her and those like her, who stay on the frontlines of women's battle for dignity and lives free from violence.

Philip Fitzpatrick

A couple of observations, with the caveat that I'm certainly no expert nor can I account for any great success in what I suggest.

With respect to "not invented here" I can report that this is indeed a serious inhibiting factor for many worthwhile endeavours.

This struck me vividly when we were seeking support from such institutions as UPNG and Australia's DFAT when developing the Crocodile Prize. It wasn't their idea therefore they didn't want to know about it and only offered token support.

The PNG government wasn't even prepared to offer token support. It simply ignored our existence.

What that experience reinforced was my belief in the wisdom of leading from behind and, in particular, creating the impression in the heads of those whose support you seek that whatever it was you want to achieve is actually their idea.

In my working life I don't know how many times I've used this strategy and watched people charge off enthused about what they think is their brilliant idea.

This is an interesting approach because it requires setting aside your own ego. A lot of people find this particularly difficult. It is a sad truth that for those people noble causes are dependent upon personal recognition.

Another observation apparent in the list of notable women above is their relationship to what is generally accepted as PNG's elite. They can all attribute their success in varying degrees to membership of this group.

Membership of this group has given them access to such things as a good education and social and economic security.

I'm not knocking this fact in any way. It is laudable that they have used this privilege to further the cause of all women in PNG. Many women in this position are content to enjoy such privilege without any thought of their less endowed sisters.

What I would point out, however, is that there are stories of many women from much more humble backgrounds who have also contributed to the cause of women's equality in PNG, often in very trying circumstances.

Those women who have survived domestic violence or accusations of witchcraft and gone on to create strong precedents need to be lauded just as much as their luckier cousins.

Finally, I must support Keith's observation about there being many leaners in proportion to actual lifters in endeavours like those championed by people like Rashmii.

I would also add that in such endeavours success always attracts exploiters. We had experience of those during our work with the Crocodile Prize. They are a bane that require vigilance.

Betty Gabriel Wakia

So honoured to be among the 'think equal, build smart & innovative for change'. Thank you Rashmii A Bell and Keith Jackson for the recognition of these 12 women.

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