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Two primary school students win Westpac’s 2016 Education grant

Four students and two tertiary/adult workers are the winners of 2016 Westpac Women’s Education grant.

Jonama Alphonse and Bridgette Waikaidi (primary school), Natasha Wismina and Elvansen Boas (secondary school) and Clare Tutuana and Dorothy Amoko were respectively announced winners last week.

Westpac has offered these grants to help women and girls with the cost of their education since 2011, in recognition of the critical link between learning and the broader empowerment of females.

“A key aspect of our sustainability strategy is to ‘empower through education’ and these education grants do just that – allowing girls to stay in school longer and women to continue studying,” said the acting Westpac PNG’s managing director, Adrian Hughes.

“We know that women and girls who benefit from quality education have a far stronger chance of entering the workforce and  enjoying a strong and stable career – and, importantly, that they go on to have children who are well educated too.

“I would like to thank everyone who applied this year – it was an exceptional field with high quality writing and a hard task to select the winners,” Hughes said.

What the winners said

This year’s competition question was based on the theme for International Women’s Day 2016 Pledge for Parity which asks everyone to pledge to accelerate gender equality. Applicants were asked to answer this question in a written essay “How can men and women join forces in your country to help women and girls advance?”

Jonama Alphonse of Alotau Primary School, Milne Bay Province, said: “I appeal to parents of girls to get them to think seriously about good income-earning jobs that they will aim to become when they grow older. There should be parental guidance involved in shaping a child’s future employment dreams. These start from home and when they are older, more knowledgeable and earning their own income, they are more independent to make better judgments on issues and they are on an equal par to most males in their society.

“A family unit is the strongest and first place that a girl child learns to become somebody who is an equal to any male counterpart.”

Bridgette Waikaidi of Alotau Primary School, Milne Bay Province, said: “We must all encourage girls and women to take part in educational workshops and seminars that will enhance their skills to venture into small businesses ventures to earn income that will sustain them and their families.”

Natasha Wismina of Hagen Secondary School said: “As a high school student, I think it is important to teach women’s issues in the “Personal Development’ course since this will expose teenage boys to the various issues affecting girls and women, thereby helping to combat gender discrimination in our society.”

Elvansen Boas of Tusbab Secondary School, Madang Province, said: “Males can help females progress economically by providing a safe venue for business ventures to occur. Women and girls would like to go to the markets and sell produce but more and more markets are now becoming areas for petty crime and are deemed unfit for women to sell their produce at.

“An example of this is the Balasigo market in Madang Province. Due to too much harassment occurring at this particular market, the community elders have set up a task force of youths to help maintain law and order in the market area and to ensure no woman falls prey to these opportunists or negative influence.”

Clare Tutuana of the National Capital District said: “The perception of accelerating gender equality sounds big but with one small step for a girl to realise her dreams and one big step for women to determine her destiny makes the road easier to travel to advance women and girls. So the saying goes ‘to educate a woman is to educate a nation’ what better way to share that advantage through equality for both women and girls in Papua New Guinea?”

Dorothy Amoko, an accounts clerk with the Guard Dog Security Firm in Lae, Morobe Province, said: “From my point of view, I think that our people should be further educated on what gender equality is, beginning at our rural and local community levels. In that way, they will have the understanding to fully encourage and support women and girls.”

The successful recipients will each receive K3000 to contribute towards their education costs.

More education news on >> PNG Education News

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