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Media Releases, 16 October 2015

A beacon of hope for womens empowerment in Hela

Empowering and advancing women roles in Hela Province is an uphill battle for many says women's leader and gender rights advocate, Mary Michael Tamia.

Ms Tamia who has spent her life supporting and advancing women in Papua New Guinea and especially in the Hela Province, highlighted the challenge and need for more work to be done to empower women in the province.

With a background in public health, Ms Tamia has focused on providing community-based care in an effort to improve the health of local people while serving as an advisor for local institutions and NGOs and, as an nationally recognised trainer of trainers.

She also heads a proactive women's church group, and runs a multitude of programs aimed at supporting single mothers, the poor, the disabled, and victims of HIV and AIDS, while holding down a full-time job.

Based in Tari, Hela Province, Ms Tamia is well known in the community. She is a force to be reckoned with and is passionate about helping women recognise their potential to become leaders and succeed in life.

With such an approach and an unwavering commitment to advancing women, she was selected to attend the prestigious Global Women in Management (GWIM) conference held in Indonesia in 2011.

Ms Tamia described her experience at the global women's conference, which was supported by ExxonMobil PNG (EMPNG), operator of the PNG LNG Project, as inspiring and one that had given her the tools she needed to advance the work she was already doing.

"The GWIM conference helped me to move forward in my career and embrace a more active leadership role in the community," said Ms Tamia.

"I learned about advocacy, finance, management and facilitation, all of which I was able to apply to the projects I was working."

After attending the conference, Ms Tamia wanted to share these skills with other women. Through funding provided by EMPNG, she built a training centre and accommodation unit in the village of Habia where she now conducts livelihoods, cooking and sewing training, marital relationship workshops, and supports education for young girls.

"My dream for the women of Hela is to abolish gender discrimination and for women to be self-reliant in a holistic way," said Ms Tamia.

"Women are incredibly strong, but they need better education and more support to achieve equality. That's what I am committed to doing and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make it a reality."