More women involved in public space needed to prevent violence

A screenshot of the speakers at the Discussion "Women Can Be Anything" which is a part of the 16-Day campaign against Violence Against Women in Papua. Jubi/Yuliana Lantipo

Jayapura, Jubi – The Ruang Damai Foundation and the Women’s Coalition to Save Papuan Humans held an online discussion titled “Women Can Do Anything” on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. This webinar is part of a series of activities for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence in Papua.

The women’s coalition coordinator, Ani Sipa, said in her speech that women and children were the biggest victims of political and military conflicts in Papua, as well as rampant investments.

“Women and children become vulnerable when they do not know the patterns of violence they experience. There is no room for women to express themselves and telling their very own situation, be it psychological or physical violence,” Sipa said.

“Therefore,” she continued, “We speak up together, we call on everyone to take part and participate in campaigning for women’s issues, because women are mothers who gave birth to a generation for the Land of Papua,” said Ani Sipa.

Sipa’s statement matched what Rev. Dora Balubun’s had said in the early days of her service in Papua. She said there was still a stigma against women in Papua who took the big responsibility at church services. Women were and still are underestimated but continue to prove the world wrong.

Balubun told her experience as a pastoress at Christian Protestant Church in the Land of Papua (GKI) before she chaired the GKI’s Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Ministry (JPIC). She said a senior pastor once told her, “Pastoress, you’re a woman. Can you talk about human rights? How can you work for human rights?”

Balubun was quite surprised by that statement. She immediately realized that she did not have a basic knowledge of human rights at that time.

“The statement from the senior pastor at that time became an encouragement to me. I, as a woman, was determined to prove myself and work in a large institution in Papua,” she added. Balubun made it and proved that a woman could do anything.

Meanwhile, Yansen Alberth, a scholar at the Cenderawasih University, added that such a discussion held by the women’s coalition was a political statement as well as a self-defense mechanism. The success stories of women in Papua in helming strategic positions, he said, had proved that Papuan women are great women who can become anything.

Alberth supported more women’s involvement in public space, as well as in the process of policymaking. He hoped that the women would continue to keep their flame and show the quality of women so that they could also prevent violence from occurring in the environment.

The Women’s Coalition to Save Papuan Humans hopes that the 16 Days for Activism campaign can generate public awareness of the vulnerability of Papuan women, especially in conflict areas, and calls everyone to play an active role in voicing human rights issues in Papua.

The coalition consists of various non-governmental organizations and women’s activists who share the same vision to voice women’s rights in Papua, such as the JPIC GKI, Elsham Papua, the Papua Legal Aid Institute, the SKPKC Fransiskan Papua, and others. [*]

Reporter: Yuliana Lantipo

Editor: Syam Terrajana

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