The Leniata Legacy Leads Gender Fight in PNG

PORT MORESBY - The Ugly face of violence against women in PNG, which had been a private affair for so long, was revealed to the world when a young mother was executed earlier this year in Mt Hagen.

Twenty year old Kepari Leniata was tortured and burnt alive by an angry mob who accused her of practicing sorcery.

This barbarism sparked uproar among the women of PNG, with the group Women Arise PNG leading a national haus krai to mourn the women who have fallen victim to one form of violence or another.

Her legacy now lives on in the passion of four strong women who have taken up the fight to campaign against gender based violence.

The Leniata Legacy is an organisation set up by Philma Kelegai, Cassaundra Rangip, Mona L. Endehipa and Gertrude Sios. They were also the masterminds behind the high-profile march supported by 300 Papua New Guineans based in Brisbane.

On Sunday the group launched their Kepari Care campaign with a photo shoot at Vision City; then on Wednesday they visited Cheshire home and Port Moresby General Hospital to donate care kits to the needy.

Yesterday the group visited Baruni Primary School to talk to the students about empowering women and how they can take up leadership roles. The water restriction there did not hinder the school students participating in Leniata Legacy which involved five hours of interactive mentor modules focusing on leadership, self-esteem and violence against women.

"Thank you for coming to Baruni first," said Ben Naime, principle of the primary school, who showed great appreciation and acknowledgement of the program within the school.

Male students were dismissed in the morning, to give the girls an opportunity to spend half a day with Leniata Legacy on their own. The young women began with the subject of leaderships and what it means to be a leader.

"These children are the direct result of poor leadership," said secretary Cassaundra Rangip. "But, they are so insightful and aware of the world around them."

Leniata Legacy emphasised the importance of self-worth and self-esteem, through interactive games and conversation. The module laid the ground work to address the issue of violence against women.

As participants identified the causes of violence, they were also instructed to find the solution through group discussions and one-on-one conversations. The young women of Baruni Primary School identified alcohol as the root cause of much of the violence against women' and education its solution.

"You have to continue to read. You have to continue to come to school. You can read your way out of Baruni," said vice-president Mona Endehipa.

"You are never too young. You are never too womanly, and you are certainly never too poor to change your community."

The day ended with a camp like discussion session where the co-founders of the Leniata Legacy shared their journey of leadership, self-esteem and self-empowerment.

The Leniata Legacy hopes to revisit Baruni Primary School in the future to continue to work with young women in the area. [PostCourier]
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