8 Mar 2019

Bougainville women march for unity after recent violence

10:54 am on 8 March 2019
Helen Hakena.

Helen Hakena. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When the women of Bougainville march today to mark International Women's Day, the recent violence in Buka will be at the front of their minds.

Fighting, which claimed two lives and resulted in the torching of 34 houses on nearby Sohana Island is easing, according to Helen Hakena of the Leitana Neham Women's Development Agency.

But Ms Hakena said as the autonomous Papua New Guinea province prepares for an independence referendum in October, it needs to be united and for that reason the theme of the march is 'We Are More Powerful Together.'

"United people moving together towards referendum. We don't want to be divided so today the women are calling for that. We will be calling for a total ban on alcohol because that is also triggering a lot of violence around Buka and the rest of Bougainville."

Helen Hakena also said the women want to see illegal weapons surrendered because they are still being used to frighten people.