PAPUA New Guinea took another step towards ending violence against women with the formation of the Mubalu Women of Hope Federation, which was launched in Baiyer, Western Highlands in November.

First lady Lynda Babao-O’Neill highlighted the collective strength of women in the community in her keynote address at the launch of the foundation.

“We all share a love for family and community, and the way to address issues that are important to women and families is to work together,” Mrs Babao-O’Neill said.

“Together we have one voice that is strong when we are talking to leaders and the community and this is a powerful voice.”

“We have the best country in the world, and in this country we must work for change in the good way.”

Mrs Babao-O’Neill said her early years spent in a small village in Pangia had opened her eyes to the difficulties faced by ordinary women around the country.

“The O’Neill-Dion government introduced free education and health care because they know how this not only helps the broader community but helps women and girls,” she said.

“Free education is making women stronger and more girls are now going to school than ever before.”

“Health is another concern for women because if mothers are sick it hurts the whole family.

“We have free healthcare in our country and mothers must see doctors if they are sick.

Mrs Babao-O’Neill said violence was a problem for all people in PNG and called on the country’s men to set an example.

“We, the women, we are your number one supporters and you must look after us too,“ she said.

“We must show good example for our children and show them how to fix problems without violence.”

Ms Babao-O’Neill presented a cheque for K150,000 on behalf of the Prime Minister to the Mubalu Women of Hope Federation to assist them with their programs.

The Mubalu Women of Hope Federation was formed by widows, unmarried mothers, women living with HIV/AIDS, women living with cervical cancer and women affected by gender-based violence, to provide a support group to assist them address these issues.