Women make giant leaps in Hela

National, Normal

The National, Monday July 29th, 2013

 A QUIET revolution is taking place in Hides, Hela, site of the massive gas conditioning plant, as women take their place in a traditional society dominated by men.

This was evident at Kuranda, Hides, on Saturday when 212 women and three men graduated from a year-long hands-on training programme in food processing, nutrition and hygiene conducted by Esso Highlands Ltd (EHL), operator of the PNG LNG Project.

A similar graduation was held at Juni the same day, while another one will take place at Komo today.

Adorned in colourful Papua New Guinea and Hela attire, the women marched along the main road to the Kuranda Evangelical Church of PNG Women’s Training Centre, where they received their certificates and displayed scones, bread, cakes and other pastries they baked using drum ovens, plus fruits and vegetables they grew.

They concurred that it was a life-changing experience, given that they now make very good money from sale of scones and vegetables with the abundance of cash because of the LNG project.

They have their own bank accounts at the nearby ANZ Bank branch at Para and no longer depend on their husbands to be the sole breadwinners.

Jukuli Kapiako, who spoke on behalf of the women graduates, said the drum oven was like a husband to her as it was now the breadwinner for her family.

“Our lives have changed because of the drum ovens,” she said.

“In the past, we slept in pigs’ houses while our husbands married many women.”

Tai Himu said the graduation marked a complete attitude change in Hela.

“We have never been like this before,” she said.

“In Tari custom, a woman’s job is pigs, children, and gardens. These were the only things we used to do.

“We stayed dirty, we didn’t have any money. In the past, we had problems with our husbands. Arguments and fights erupted when they didn’t give us money to buy household essentials.

“With the drum ovens, we no longer depend on our husbands.” We can provide everything for the household ourselves unlike in the past, when we relied on our husbands.”