Dame Josephine Abaijah
Electorate: NCD (1977-82); Milne Bay Regional (1997-2000)
Province: NCD (1977-82) Milne Bay (1997-2000)
Political Status: N/A
Dame Josephine Abaijah was born in 1944 in Misima, Papua New Guinea. She was the first woman to be elected to the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly, in 1972. She was the only woman elected at that time. She was re-elected in 1977, in the first National Parliament of Independent Papau New Guinea. She stood unsuccessfully for a third term in 1982. From 1989 Chairperson of the Interim Commission (Government) of the National Capital District.
In 1997, after fifteen years out of Parliament, she was re-elected. She was ousted by her own party as governor of Milne Bay province in January 2000
She founded and led the Papua Besena movement, which agitated unsuccessfully for Papua to become a completely independent country on its own instead of being linked with New Guinea as Papua New Guinea. Asked by the Pacific Journalism Review for her opinion as to why there were (in 1995) no women in Papua New Guinea’s Parliament, she stated: “I maintain that I will not give money to somebody to vote for me. So I think that’s one big reason. The men can get money, the men can bribe. We are finding it very difficult for women to go around bribing people. I think this is where the country is going nowhere because here there is a lot of bribes, there is a lot of corruption, something that women don’t want in this country.”
Regarding the condition of women, she told the Review: “Now women can’t go from their homes to their gardens because of fear of being raped. It’s unfortunate. I don’t want to paint a picture that is negative — this is my country and when I talk about it I want to give a good picture of it — because I want to be proud of it. But how can I be proud of it when these are things that are happening?”
Her autobiography, A Thousand Coloured Dreams, was published in 1991.
This information draws heavily from Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Abaijah.