THE EVER expanding Anitua Group launched its Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) program, the key component of its corporate responsibility program, on White Ribbon Day last year.

“Anitua has grown to the point where we are now in the very fortunate position of being able to give so much more back to the people of PNG,” Anitua executive director Colin Vale said.

“Given that the vast majority of PNG women and therefore nearly half the overall PNG population are victims of gender violence, then a program to reduce this violence and better service the needs of victims will obviously benefit many Papua New Guineans.”

Anitua’s EVAW Program comprises four sub-programs: Championing and funding the construction of a meri seif haus (women’s refuge) on Lihir; implementing Australia’s White Ribbon Workplace Program across Anitua’s many businesses; enlisting the media to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women; and lobbying Anitua’s business partners and the mining sector in particular to introduce their own EVAW initiatives.

Anitua has nearly 4,000 staff – just under half of whom are women – scattered all over PNG.

Anitua EVAW project manager Linda Van Leeuwen said the company was able to help women all over PNG because the staff lived and worked all over the country.

“But it’s not just the women who work for us who will be better off – it’s their children, their families, and their entire communities because violence against women hurts everyone,” Dr Van Leeuwen said.

“When many families within the one community are all suffering from violence then it is evident that the whole community is suffering. Strong, healthy, happy and prosperous communities can only be built from strong, healthy, happy and prosperous families and there is no room for violence in that equation.”

The managing director of Anitua’s catering and camp management company NCS, John Gethin-Jones, said the EVAW program had been incredibly well received by staff.

“NCS has the reputation of being an employer of choice, especially for PNG women, and our EVAW program is cementing this reputation,” he said.

“Our staff have been thanking us for trying to make our workplaces safer and more supportive and it’s truly heart-warming to be getting this type of feedback. We’re big on empowerment and development programs at NCS but we realise it is very difficult for a staff member to reach her true potential if she is a victim of violence.”

According to Mr Gethin-Jones, companies must introduce anti-violence initiatives if they want any other programs they have to be effective.

Together with Anitua, NCS is a foundation member of the World Bank sponsored PNG Business Coalition for Women. Specific objectives of the Coalition address the empowerment and advancement of women, as well as the elimination of violence against them. Mr Gethin-Jones has been invited to give a key note address on Advancing Women in Business at the 2014 Australia Papua New Guinea Business Forum in Cairns where he will reinforce the importance of businesses introducing their own programs to address violence against women.