Posted on March 08, 2016

In its fifteenth year, the Incentive Fund program continues to provide high performing organisations with grants to provide economic opportunities or improve their services to Papua New Guineans.

Recently the Incentive Fund program introduced a new requirement that eighty per cent (80%) of all funded projects have a focus on empowering women and girls.

Ms Susil Nelson, who is a leading advocate for women and girls in PNG, believes this target will help create more leadership opportunities for women by directing organisations seeking funding to focus on women and girls.

"If you improve the life of women, you improve the life of the whole society."

Dame Carol Kidu, Incentive Fund Phase 4, Strategic Management Group member

Ms Nelson’s role as a member of the Incentive Fund’s governing board; the Strategic Management Group, has enabled her to influence positive changes.

“I think we need more women in leadership, in decision-making roles, so we can make policies that are gender friendly, or maybe even gender neutral, but some way that we can achieve gender parity,” she said.

Joining her on the Incentive Fund Strategic Management Group is Dame Carol Kidu. Dame Carol is also a long-term supporter of women and girls in PNG.

“I think it’s particularly important to target women and girls because we are a society in transition. I think there is very good reason from health perspectives, education perspectives, from economic empowerment perspectives in targeting women and girls to bring a greater benefit to society in general,” Dame Carol said.

Over the past 15 years, the Incentive Fund program – now in its fourth phase – has supported more than 60 projects, and women and girls across PNG have been significant beneficiaries. 

Health projects, such as those in Alotau, Kudjip and Mingende hospitals, received improved maternal care facilities, whilst other health projects provided indirect benefits to women and girls. 

Educating girls, particularly in rural PNG, is still a challenge, but the Incentive Fund program continues to make small impacts, and improving quality education for girls’ remains a focus. Three all-girls’ secondary schools in the country have benefited significantly from the program.

“Education is a big impediment to women’s advancement and I am especially talking about the younger generation. We have a lot of our women folk that are in rural areas and how do you reach out to them and make sure they are included in terms of development?” asks Ms Nelson.

“I think that education allows everybody including women and girls to be economically empowered as they have the opportunity to better themselves, their lives and their communities,” she adds.

Incentive Fund strengthens support for women and girls (1)

Susil Nelson (centre) with Loia Vaira (left), Department of National Planning and Monitoring, and Iabomai Ataia (right) from the Australian High Commission on a site tour of Mercy Secondary School, Wewak.

Incentive Fund strengthens support for women and girls (2)

Dame Carol Kidu (centre) with staff of Mercy Secondary School, Wewak.