By OGIA MIAMEL
ALMOST every household in Papua New Guinea relies on mothers to provide food for the home and to meet other family needs through selling cooked food, garden produce or other products at the market.
It is a common sight in towns, cities and villages for mothers to sit long hours despite the heat of the sun or cold from the rain to make enough money for the day.
Mothers in Port Moresby face a daily battle at the market place. They not only compete with others to sell their products but they also have to put up with the street boys, also known as street mangi, and police.
To try to help these women, UN Women and National Capital District Commission came up with the safe city programs.
It aims to ensure a safe market place for all women to sell and buy without being harassed.
Another setback for almost three quarters of these women involved in the informal sector is that they do not have bank accounts. Some of them are not literate enough to access the financial services available in the country. The PNG Government, commercial banks and other partners are striving to make this financial illiteracy a thing of the past.
In August this year a few mothers from the settlements around Port Moresby were given the opportunity of a lifetime to undergo a three-day financial education training. It was a very exciting time for most of these mothers who had never completed primary education and had thought such an opportunity would never come.
The financial literacy training was delivered by Laymen’s Professional Services Ltd, a partner financial institution of the Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP), supported by the Australian Government and the Asian Development Bank in partnership with the Bank of PNG and Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI).
The Microfinance Expansion Program aims to address poverty alleviation through financial literacy and making financial services accessible to all Papua New Guineans in rural communities. Out of this this particular training, a whopping total of 2000 men and women from the informal sector and formal sector graduated early this month.
Jika Moguga Women’s group representative, Amelia Dika, told The National they were the first batch from PNG Women in Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PNGWCC&I) to undergo the training and it was an eye opener for them.
“We are very privileged, this training taught me how to save and budget, even though after 33 years I have been in the public service. I don’t know how to save and now I am saving for my family, and also the community that I am living in.”
“They (trainers) taught us the importance of money and it was done in a way that we understood. They showed us the importance of money in today’s world and the reality of being financially literate”, she said.
Dika is originally from Yangoru in East Sepik and married to a Western Highlander. They have five children together. She saw and experienced the real struggles that women in her village and also her husband’s village, go through each day. It was heartbreaking for her and she vowed to do something to help them. That’s when she founded the Jika Moguga Women’s group in Port Moresby.
The association mainly comprises of women from her husband’s village who are living in settlements around Port Moresby.
All of them are involved in the informal sector, doing things such as selling cooked food, reselling garden produce and betel nut, soft drinks etc. at different markets around the city.
She explained that 13 members of the association attended the training and they all shed tears of joy after graduation. It was a dream coming true for them. They paid K25 as registration fee for the training and it was money well spent for them, they said.
The women now know how to operate a bank account, save for the future, budget for their households and most importantly discipline themselves on where and how they spend their money.
Dika’s goal was to help these mothers to move with the changes taking place in the country. Now that they have graduated from the training the next step is to assist them progress into the bigger projects such as poultry, piggery, farming, fresh produce, bakery and sewing.
With the assistance of MiBank they can now open bank accounts without having to provide extra documents that bigger banks insist on.
Women in the city are being encouraged to register with PNG Women in Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The training and projects that PNGWCC&I provides are truly beneficial and uplifting.
By OGIA MIAMEL