Women are the backbone of their families and their communities. In one of the remote areas in Mul Baiyer District in Western Highlands Province, a group of women from five different communities formed the Ukuni 1 Women in Coffee & Farmers Association. The Association was established in 2008 with the goal of empowering and supporting women to strengthen their community. These women contribute to producing quality coffee exported to international markets.
Femili PNG, through its sister organisation based in Canberra, Friends of Femili PNG (FoFPNG), has connected with the Association and other partners in the coffee industry as part of its e-commerce initiative. FoFPNG Philanthropy & Partnerships Manager Paul Scott has been working towards releasing Femili PNG coffee, using coffee grown by local women. The aim is to provide economic opportunities for local women, and raise funds for Femili PNG, a local NGO providing assistance to survivors of violence.
To learn more about the women coffee growers at Ukuni, Mr Scott made a road trip visit with Femili PNG team which included PNG High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency Mr John Kali, who is also Femili PNG’s first patron; Femili PNG board member and Oil Search Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Copus-Campbell; along with other members. The team received a warm welcome from the men, women and children at Ukuni 1 on Friday 18 March 2022. The community were grateful for the visit, as they do not get many visitors to their area.
The Ukuni 1 Women in Coffee & Farmers Association Chairlady, Rachel Joseph, was emotional as she thanked the team for the visit. She shared how the association was created and talked about the importance of coffee in their community. “We get money from coffee and help our children to be educated so that they can bring services into our community,’’ Ms Joseph said, pointing out their struggles with the poor roads and inaccessibility to basic services. She appreciated the support from Baki Coffee in providing trainings, tools and other assistance in terms of marketing their coffee. The men and community were also acknowledged for backing up the women in their projects.
His Excellency Mr Kali had a taste of the coffee from Ukuni in Canberra and was eager to meet the women responsible. He applauded the collaboration of the community in working together to produce a product for the country. Mr Kali shared his role as the PNG High Commissioner to Australia, and as the patron of Femili PNG. To ensure the implementation of the agreement signed between PNG and Australia in 2020, Mr Kali accepted the offer to be Femili PNG’s patron to help promote and strengthen the organisation’s work in assisting women and children experiencing violence. He said, “I am like the eyes, ears and face of Femili PNG to promote interest in its work.’’ Being passionate and a strong advocate for gender equality, Mr Kali is determined in pushing Femili PNG’s work through partnership, fundraising and promoting economic opportunities for women.
Mr Kali encouraged the men to continue to support their women and work together so that they can all enjoy the profits of their labor. He concluded, “provide good education for your children, because one day, one of your children will become the High Commissioner to Australia.’’