Papua New Guinea businesses have appetite for diversity and inclusion, says Business Coalition for Women


Now that business is almost back as usual in Papua New Guinea, the Business Coalition for Women (BCFW) is working on new programs that aim to achieve gender equality and inclusion in the country. BCFW’s Executive Director, Evonne Kennedy, speaks with Business Advantage PNG about the non-for-profit’s plans.

JID Global implemented a family and sexual violence (FSV) policy and nominated staff to be trained by the Business Coalition for Women. Credit: Business Coalition for Women via Facebook

It’s no secret that Papua New Guinea has a gender equality challenge. The Business Coalition for Women (BCFW) has been trying to address this issue by offering training programs to business for many years and has recently been making significant progress.

Business Coalition for Women

BCFW’s Evonne Kennedy.

‘There’s appetite at the moment in the business community to be focusing on diversity and inclusion,’ says BCFW’s Executive Director, Evonne Kennedy tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘That appetite is coming from investors; it’s coming from global partners such as the IFC (International Finance Corporation) and from donors. There is also that imperative push in trying to create greater diversity at the different tiers of leadership in organisations.’

Membership to the BCFW has increased from 65 financial members in 2021 to 78 in 2022 so far, and includes some of PNG’s largest companies. The not-for-profit organisation has been able to recruit more staff.

‘There’s certainly a growing demand for the work we are doing with the business community,’ Kennedy tells Business Advantage PNG.


Amongst BCFW’s new projects are a safe public transport program to address safety concerns for women and children accessing the public transport system in Lae.

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Transport is such a big impediment for women’s progression (a 2017 survey found over 90 per cent of PNG women reported being sexually harassed or robbed on public transportation) that we’ve had to put some or our energy in that space,’ says Kennedy.

It is also running a pilot program to engage men in gender equity to highlight that gender equality is a business issue, not only a women’s issue. ‘If the pilot is successful, we could offer it to all our members as well,’ she says.

The BCFW will also be working with IFC around childcare and flexible workspaces. For Kennedy, research is key to understand the needs of the business community and to develop effective programs and other resources to support BCFW’s members.

Cost for business

The cost of family and sexual violence is another area of focus.

The BCFW, with the IFC, did a baseline study with three PNG companies last year and found that the cost for business rated very similar to what was found in a similar study in 2015.

‘In terms of lost time of staff members because of family and sexual violence, it’s about 10 days lost per year. In 2015, the survey showed 11 days lost. The cost of business equated to over K7.3 billion. The impacts are [still] significant,’ highlights Kennedy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCFW developed a hybrid model to deliver its flagship programs – Addressing Violence, Gender Smart Safety and Women in Leadership.

‘We’ve pretty much gone back to business as usual in PNG,’ explains Kennedy. ‘[For BCFW, this means] a mix of face-to-face and online programs. Our work has continued to increase in terms of reach, and we are focusing on different aspects of safety as well.’

To contact the Business Coalition for Women and learn more about its programs, visit


  1. Joelson Anere says

    I think that BCFW needs to explore the potential impact on SMEs particularly in terms of CVA and GBV in Disaster Settings as this continues to be a big challenge for SMEs such as during the Aita Tsunami, Cyclone Gubag, and even Elections related violence during the 2022 NGE.

    PNGBCFW needs to address that too for its members. Safe public transportation may look like a band-aid solution if not complemented with other measures for its members.

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