Josephine Abaijah

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Dame Josephine Abaijah, GCL, DBE (born 1944, Misima, Papua New Guinea) was the first woman to be elected to the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly, in 1972.[1] She was the only woman elected at that time.[2]

She was re-elected in 1977, and stood unsuccessfully for a third term in 1982. After fifteen years out of Parliament, she was elected once more in 1997.[3]

She founded and led the Papua Besena movement, which agitated unsuccessfully for Papua to become a completely independent country on its own instead of being linked with New Guinea as Papua New Guinea.[4] She expressed support for Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka's military coup in Fiji in 1987.[5][why?]

Asked by the Pacific Journalism Review for her opinion as to why there were (in 1995) no women in Papua New Guinea's Parliament, she stated:

"I maintain that I will not give money to somebody to vote for me. So I think that's one big reason. The men can get money, the men can bribe. We are finding it very difficult for women to go around bribing people. I think this is where the country is going nowhere because here there is a lot of bribes, there is a lot of corruption, something that women don't want in this country."[6]

Regarding the condition of women, she told the Review:

"Now women can't go from their homes to their gardens because of fear of being raped. It's unfortunate. I don't want to paint a picture that is negative -- this is my country and when I talk about it I want to give a good picture of it -- because I want to be proud of it. But how can I be proud of it when these are things that are happening?"[7]

Her autobiography, A Thousand Coloured Dreams,[8] was published in 1991.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brij V. Lal, Kate Fortune. The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia. Published by University of Hawaii Press, 2000. pg 297.
  2. ^ John D. Waiko, A Short History of Papua New Guinea, Oxford University Press, 2001 [1993], ISBN 0-19-553164-7, p.182
  3. ^ Sepoe, Orovu, "To make a difference: Realities of women’s participation in Papua New Guinea politics", Development Bulletin, no. 59, 2002, page 40 (Electronic version)
  4. ^ "The Reluctant Nation", Time magazine, September 29, 1975
  5. ^ Brij V. Lal, Broken waves: a history of the Fiji Islands in the twentieth century, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, ISBN 0-8248-1418-5, pp. 293-94
  6. ^ "Papua New Guinea: Under the Spell", Pacific Journalism Review, Vol 2, #1 (November 1995)
  7. ^ Pacific Journalism Review, ibid.
  8. ^ Abaijah, Josephine and Dr. Eric Wright, A Thousand Coloured Dreams: The Story of a Young Girl Growing up in Papua, Dellasta Pacific. Mount Waverley, Victoria, 1991

External links[edit]