Given the variance in factors influencing women within PNG, there are still some general trends that illustrate the generally lower status of women throughout the country. This is depicted through the low numbers of women in decision-making positions in the public service, the private sector and especially in parliament.
Women in PNG lack access to adequate health care resulting in one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, an extremely high infant mortality rate and particularly low life expectancy.
Education is the other major social indicator that portrays the lower status of women and girls. Literacy in PNG is comparatively low for both men and women. However, the consistent 10% lower rate of education for females of all ages has dire consequences for other aspects of life for women and their families. NGOs have been working to increase literacy of women throughout PNG, particularly in the Highlands where the statistics are the worst.
Areas of intervention to improve the status of women in PNG were well documented in the lead up to the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. Many recommendations addressing the key areas of health, education, decision making and violence have been articulated yet very few of these strategies have been implemented to date. There is a need for donors, government, NGOs, the private sector and individuals to work cooperatively to ensure that government policy is implemented and that project work is supported through district, provincial and national networks.
Although a great deal of information on gender in Papua New Guinea has been produced, it has been narrowly focused on women, their health, and issues of population and family planning. Recently there has been an increase in research into violence, particularly domestic violence, and its specific affects on women.
There is still very little information on the role of women in some of the PNG industries, especially in forestry and the private sector. The national census information was found to be unreliable, inconsistent and out of date and this report does not recommend focusing on new national studies, but rather focusing on district and village studies with the implementation of national standards for survey questioning.
It is imperative that more work and research is done into the role of men in gender relations. The whole area of gender in development will not advance a great deal in PNG without the support and commitment of the men of the country.