21 Feb 2011

Women assuming more power in PNG's Bougainville

3:18 pm on 21 February 2011

A New Zealand lawyer, who recently returned from two years volunteer work in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, says local women are gradually assuming more leadership in their communities.

Susan Hinkley, who worked as an advisor on family law issues at the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation, says local women are starting to wrest back the power that they used to have as landowners in the traditional matrilineal society.

Bougainville has three parliamentary seats reserved for women.

However Mrs Hinkley says women have been slow to contest for the general seats in Bougainville's assembly.

"That's a hard cultural change for them to get out there, not only to compete but compete against men but they're getting there and there are some very very astute women coming into positions of power in Bougainville and I suspect in the next election we're going to see women standing in general seats and hopefully succeeding."

New Zealand Lawyer, Susan Hinkley, who has been working in Bougainville