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. She was the only woman elected at that time.
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. She expressed support for Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka's military coup in Fiji in 1987.[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."
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?"
Her autobiography, A Thousand Coloured Dreams, was published in 1991.
- Brij V. Lal, Kate Fortune. The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia. Published by University of Hawaii Press, 2000. pg 297.
- John D. Waiko, A Short History of Papua New Guinea, Oxford University Press, 2001 , ISBN 0-19-553164-7, p.182
- 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)
- "The Reluctant Nation", Time magazine, September 29, 1975
- 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
- "Papua New Guinea: Under the Spell", Pacific Journalism Review, Vol 2, #1 (November 1995)
- Pacific Journalism Review, ibid.
- 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