PNG’s ‘Woman of Courage’

US first lady presents award

Paradise - - Contents -

Pa­pua New Guinean Veron­ica Si­mo­gun has been recog­nised in the an­nual In­ter­na­tional Women of Courage awards handed out by the US Depart­ment of State.

She re­cieved her award in the US from the first lady, Me­la­nia Trump.

Si­mo­gun is the di­rec­tor of the Fam­ily for Change As­so­ci­a­tion based in We­wak, East Sepik Province. She founded the as­so­ci­a­tion in 2012 and has been help­ing women af­fected by vi­o­lence ever since, fund­ing much of the work her­self.

Si­mo­gun was born in Urip vil­lage in the Boykin/ Dagua area of We­wak. She stud­ied at the Civil Avi­a­tion Train­ing Col­lege and grad­u­ated with a cer­tifi­cate in civil avi­a­tion in 1981. She worked with the Depart­ment of Civil Avi­a­tion for six years be­fore mov­ing back to her home vil­lage in 1986 to as­sist her church and com­mu­nity in the pro­mo­tion of safe and healthy liv­ing.

Her life-long de­sire has been to see strong com­mu­ni­ties, where fam­i­lies are hap­pily se­cure and women and chil­dren live free from vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion.

Risk­ing her own safety, she has in­ter­vened to pro­tect women ex­pe­ri­enc­ing gen­der-based vi­o­lence. In the face of death threats, she has helped shel­ter and re­lo­cate vic­tims many times.

The In­ter­na­tional Women of Courage awards recog­nise women around the globe who have demon­strated ex­cep­tional courage and lead­er­ship in ad­vo­cat­ing for peace, jus­tice, hu­man rights, gen­der equal­ity, and women’s em­pow­er­ment, of­ten at per­sonal risk.

Since the in­cep­tion of the awards in 2007, the Depart­ment of State has honoured over 100 women from 60 coun­tries.

Awardees, along­side Si­mo­gun, this year in­cluded hu­man rights and so­cial ac­tivists from coun­tries in­clud­ing Botswana, Colom­bia, Bangladesh and Iraq.

As part of the awards, the women trav­elled across the US to en­gage with Amer­i­cans. They vis­ited At­lanta, Den­ver, Des Moines, Min­neapo­lis, New York, Pen­sacola, Pitts­burgh, Port­land, San Diego and Tampa. ■

Women of courage … PNG’s Veron­ica Si­mo­gun receives her award from Amer­ica’s first lady Me­la­nia Trump (right); the win­ners of the Women of Courage awards with the first lady and un­der sec­re­tary Shan­non Pose (above).

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