Our current on major cross-cutting issues include: Women, HIV/AIDS and potential impact on agriculture and Youths. Our Strategic Results Framework 2011-2020 provides the major strategies for each of the cross-cutting issues. For Women and HIV/AIDS the major strategies consider the mainstreaming aspect of the issues across all our programmes as well as options of direct interventions in form of projects or activities within projects. The mainstreaming strategy is supported by appropriate institutional policies and standards. We already have in place an Institutional Gender Mainstreaming Policy that provides guidance on this aspect.
In PNG, men outlive women – this is usually a symptom of discrimination against women. Women have less access to land, food, health care, education and other economic resources and less autonomy in decision making.. In some rural areas women have 85% illiteracy rate. On the other hand they are largely responsible for homework and nurturing children. They also play a key role in food production (work in the garden and fishing) as well as collecting firewood, fetching water, selling at the market and many other obligations. There are very few women in management, leadership, and decision making roles in the workplace. The Gender Development Index (GDI) ranks PNG at 124th place out of 177 countries (UNDP 2008).
Gender equality has been proven worldwide to be an important factor in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. Countries that have higher gender equality have higher economic growth. We recognize the significance of gender equality and will continue to focus on our strategies of developing interventions targeting women and gender mainstreaming in our AR4D agenda. What our roles and responsibilities are and that are of our stakeholders is by our workplace gender policy.
HIV/AIDS and its potential impact on agriculture in PNG
It is now universally recognized that HIV/AIDS is not simply a health issue but a key development issue that requires a multi-sectoral approach. It has the potential to significantly undermine social and economic progress of Papua New Guinea. It is estimated that 1.5% of the population is living with HIV (NSPTF 2009; index mundi 2010). HIV/AIDS is perceived as an urban problem but there is an increasing trend of the HIV/AIDS epidemic spreading into rural areas. Scenario modeling indicates that rural prevalence rates will increase rapidly from 51,594 PLWH in 2007 to almost 200,000 in 2012 (Grellier and Omuru 2008).
The major impact of HIV/AIDS is a loss of labour as most of the people living with HIV are within the most physically active age group (15-49 years). In the agricultural sector this can lead to a substantial impact through loss of food and cash crop production and transfer of knowledge from one generation to another. Besides a shortage of labour through illness or death of the households head or spouse, affected households also require increased access to nutritious food to care for affected family members (Grellier and Omuru 2008).
HIVAIDS prevention can be challenging and controversial. An effective response will require innovative approaches. Hence, we are committed to working closely with important stakeholders to prevent the expansion of the epidemic and support individuals and farming communities already affected. Mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS is our strategy to address this issue. One of our interventions was the development of our HIV/AIS workplace policy to guide our stakeholders and staff to effectively mainstream HIV/AIDS issues into our AR4D efforts. Having the policy in place allows us effectively mainstream HIV/AIDS issues into our AR4D agenda. While we avoid getting ourselves directly involved in discussions around the issue, we aim to gain a better understanding of the risks, needs and opportunities of target communities in regards to HIV/AIDS in line with our AR4D activities.
PNG faces a daunting future if it does not seriously address the education and employment demands of an increasing youth population. Statistics show that young people under the age of 20 account for almost 50% (approximately 3 million) of the current total population in PNG. A large proportion of the youths will require productive employment opportunities in immediate future.
With most of the youth living in rural areas, agriculture has to be viewed as the major source of employment in the medium-term. However, misperceptions on the potential of the agriculture as a career choice are prevailing. At present, agriculture is only considered as something to fall back upon when everything else fails. There is an overall negative outlook on agriculture as business opportunity because of low wages, high levels of drudgery and physical work, lack of awareness, information, skills and meaningful resources, and the general lack of services in rural areas.
A multi-sectoral approach is required to raise the profile of agriculture as a career opportunity among PNG rural youth. We through our various programmes and portfolios continue to emphasize the need to create opportunities for youths to effectively engage in agricultural activities. Our strategies towards effective engagement of youth in agriculture focus on contributing to appropriate national policies that are aimed at empowering youths to be innovative and create opportunities through enhancing their entrepreneurial skills. We also aim to create youth interest in agriculture. We continue to provide career development opportunities for young university graduates through our cadet development programme, industrial attachment training schemes in collaboration with academic institutions and other formal and informal capacity development initiatives.