It has been 20 years since West Papua has had massive development in the economy sector, infrastructure, and human resources. This proud development cannot be separated from the involvement and participation of the Papuans themselves, especially the women.
Papuan women play a pivotal role in all the empowerment programs issued by the government. Thanks to all the implemented empowerment programs, the door of opportunity for daughters and women of Papua to show their capabilities and aspiration to this country is wide open.
To this day, there have been many Papuan women occupy prominent positions both in the central and local government. They are the ones who also contribute to the development of Papua. That way, all the daughters and women can also follow their steps.
Women of West Papua in Central Government
Yohana Yembise and Venusiana Papasi are two female figures from the land of Black Pearl who have proven that Papuan women possess powerful leadership capabilities. They are capable of serving in vital positions of the government and create effective resolutions for the nation and their own land.
Yohana Susana Yembise is the first West Papuan woman to be appointed as Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection by President Joko Widodo from the period of 2014-2019. Prior to serving in the ministry, she is an academic who also becomes the first female professor in Papua.
Through her program that she dubbed “Three Ends,” she succeeded in reducing human trafficking and domestic violence in the country. During her tenure, she also made a breakthrough by establishing a cross-cultural approach to elevate children’s education quality in West Papua.
The even development of telecommunications networks in Eastern Indonesia cannot be separated from the dedication and efforts of a West Papuan daughter, Venusiana Papasi. She is currently serving as the Director of Consumer Service at PT Telkom Indonesia.
Her hard work in the sector of telecommunications with Telkom Group for over 20 years has earned her positive appreciation from the government. In 2015, she received the “Satya Lencana Pembangunan” award from the Ministry of Communication and Information.
West Papuan Women in Local Government
Yohana and Venusiana are two of the few outstanding Papuan women who can prove to the rest of Indonesia that they have potential. Meanwhile, there are two prominent female figures in local government, namely Irene Manibuy and Pahimah Iskandar. They serve as a vice governor of West Papua and vice mayor of Sorong city.
Before serving as a vice governor, replacing Rahimin Katjong, who died in 2015, Irene Manibuy has long been involved in the West Papuan government as one of the female local parliament members.
As a politically literate woman, she knows very well how to properly implement the pre-determined development programs for the Papuans themselves and how the program wouldn’t succeed if there is no Papuan involvement in the process.
Promoting the West Papuans in political rights, more importantly, the women’s has been one of the primary concerns of the current development programs. Organizing seminars on political awareness for women is one of the many programs Pahimah Iskandar takes to actualize the said goals. She wants to empower women as they hold a pivotal key in the development of Papua, Sorong City, to be precise.
Encouraging Papuan women to participate in development programs, let alone in the government, is never easy. Fortunately, there have been many empowerment programs specifically dedicated to Papuan women.
Most of the said programs usually take the form of informal education or even socialization. These allow Papuan women to get complete access to knowledge and information. As such, they can explore their capabilities, potentials, and intelligence so that someday they have the chance to be directly involved in the government of West Papua or even Indonesia, as like what four Papuan women do above.