By KEVIN PAMBA
INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day was marked at the Divine Word University in Madang by the visit of Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells last Wednesday afternoon.
The two high profile Australian women leaders also met with another high profile PNG woman leader in higher education Professor Cecilia Nembou who is the President of DWU.
The women leaders met with a selection of 18 female students studying medicine, health sciences, mathematics and computing science and information systems under the Australian Government-funded Friendship Library.
Prof Nembou said Minister Bishop had requested for the visit to the campus to meet with female students studying in the fields of STEM (acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) prior to her visit for the annual Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum.
Nembou said DWU was proud to host Senators Bishop and Fierravanti-Wells on Women’s Day inside the Friendship Library built by the Australian Government through the Australia-PNG Incentive Fund.
The library is among several landmark contributions Australia has made to DWU and the University is forever grateful to the people of Australia for their continued support to PNG.
Bishop said she was delighted to be at the University and especially inside the Friendship Library funded by the Australian Government to commemorate Women’s Day with girls studying under the STEM programs.
She congratulated the 18 girls for enrolling in DWU and studying in STEM programs because that was already a big achievement which they can build on.
Senator Bishop told the students that studying STEM programs by females was important as it was a need area, which was traditionally dominated by men and the Australian government was focusing on it too.
She said the education of girls and welfare of women is one of the key development focus areas of Australia in PNG.
Bishop encouraged the girls to set their goals right and aim to achieve them and not to deviate from it. She also spoke of the challenges in her youth when she chose to study law in the “1970s Australia” when the legal professional was dominated by men but managed to get through.
She said PNG needs women leaders in the STEM professions but also in politics and many other fields.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells also shared similar sentiments and urged the female students in DWU to remain focused and complete their studies so that they can get into the workplace and make a difference.
The DWU students also asked questions on possible challenges they might face out in the field as educated women. They also asked the two Australian leaders about their experiences and received enlightening responses from them.
After their 30 minute engagement, the Australian political leaders proceeded to have tea with the female students where more discussions ensued before the Australian party left after an hour on the campus.
Source: Words and pictures supplied by the DWU Community Information Centre
By KEVIN PAMBA