Helen Clark cites opportunities for Papua New Guinea to achieve MDGs

15 Feb 2010

Port Moresby – United Nations Development Programme Administrator Miss Helen Clark today wrapped up her three-day visit to Papua New Guinea. In her meetings with senior government and other officials, she underlined that “the United Nations development system stands ready to continue working with the Government and the people of Papua New Guinea in overcoming existing development challenges and accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, especially in areas such as education, health, advancing women’s empowerment and combating HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

She added that prospects for huge revenues from resource-based projects provide PNG with a great opportunity to transform people’s lives by making significant progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This would require transparent mechanisms for managing and utilizing the expected revenues and channeling them for improving health, education and other developmental needs of the people of Papua New Guinea especially in rural and remote areas.

Miss Clark met with the Governor-General, Sir Paulius Matane; the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare; the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Lands, Sir Puka Temu; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Sam Abal; the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Mekere Morauta, and other senior officials. She also met with United Nations agency representatives and staff, and visited several UN-supported projects in Port Moresby.

As part of her official visit, Miss Clark went to the UNDP Leadership Development Programme on HIV/AIDS run by the Friends Foundation in the Gerehu suburb. She praised the programme for supporting people to go back to their communities and act in new and innovative ways to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including supporting orphans and combating stigma and discrimination. Miss Clark also visited the Boroko police station where she met with one of three family sexual violence units in Port Moresby which assists survivors of gender-based and domestic violence. She also visited the station’s cell block and juvenile reception centre.

On the last day of her visit Miss Clark launched the Second National MDG Progress Report together with the Minister for National Planning and District Development, Mr Paul Tiensten. As the report highlights, Papua New Guinea is currently off track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, including in areas of fighting HIV/AIDS, reducing child and maternal mortality, and promoting gender equality.  “The sad truth is that where we see progress towards the MDGs lagging the most is often where the needs and status of women and girls are accorded low priority,” she said.

At the inauguration of the National Women’s Forum on Equality and Participation for Women: a Better Future for Papua New Guinea, which Miss Clark co-chaired with the Minister for Community Development, Dame Carol Kidu, the discussion focused on the need to increase women’s voice and participation in politics as a critical means to promote democracy, advance gender equality, and achieve sustainable and inclusive development.

Women in decision-making has been a critical issue in Papua New Guinea against a backdrop of a high level of gender-based violence coupled with high rates of HIV among women and girls between the ages of 15-29 years. Papua New Guinea currently has only one female Member of Parliament, and efforts are underway to reserve 22 seats for women in Parliament.

“Efforts to promote gender equality, including promoting girls’ education, improving maternal health, combating gender-based violence, and securing female representation in government leadership positions, are of critical importance to advance development in Papua New Guinea,” said Miss Clark. “Unleashing the potential of Papua New Guinea means giving women the same opportunities in life as men,” she said.

The President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville James Tanis paid a courtesy visit to Miss Clark. During this visit, Miss Clark expressed UNDP’s commitment to continue to support efforts for post-conflict recovery, reconciliation, and weapons disposal in Bougainville.

Overall, Miss Clark’s three-day visit to the country highlighted significant opportunities which exist to promote investment in public service delivery, empower women, and advance Papua New Guinea’s development agenda.

Contact Information

United Nations Development Programme
P.O. Box 1041
Port Moresby, N.C.D.
Papua New Guinea
Tel: +675 321 2877
Fax:+675 321 1224
E-mail: elizabeth.turi@undp.org