Image source: The Commonwealth
One young Papua New Guinean has put PNG on the world map for her significant effort of improving society.
At the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London, Jacqueline Joseph was honoured the Commonwealth Pacific Young Person of the Year for her work in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ultimately improve society.
The 27-year-old is the co-founder of Equal Playing Field, a non-government organisation that promotes positive relationships, self-improvement, discipline and awareness on violence against women and gender equality among other issues, through sports in schools.
Her work has helped address SDG 5: Gender Equality, helping school children realise their roles in ending violence against women, as well as helping them understand and appreciate their values and strengths.
Receiving the award, a delighted Jacqueline said, “In a country like Papua New Guinea with 800 different languages [and] diverse cultures, it is a tough place to work in. But I guess one of the good things about having challenges, is that it makes you stronger, it makes you work extra hard”.
She said the challenges are what have taught her to keep working harder.
“We (Equal Playing Field) have worked with over 3,000 young people, and 83% of these young people have pledged their support to end violence against women and girls. And for us that means that we are now working with activated young people who want to make a difference in their communities,” Jacqueline added.
The Bougainvillean lass says she hopes to work with and help more young Papua New Guineans.
“After this award, for me I’d like to work with more young people who can then be able to be more activated to make a change, to take ownership of violence that happens in communities. And I hope that through this more young people come to realise how important it is to respect each other in the community.”
Presenting the award to Jacqueline, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland praised her for her efforts and thanked her for the work she has done to help so many people.
This award, however, isn’t a first for her recognising her efforts and work. Last year, she was given the IBBM Young Achievers Award at the Westpac Outstanding Women’s Awards.
Jacqueline was among 16 other finalists from Commonwealth member countries, and a fellow Papua New Guinean, Raylance Mesa.
Other regional awards went to Charles Lipenga from Malawi (Commonwealth Africa Young Person of the Year), and Tricia Teekah from Guyana (Commonwealth Caribbean Young Person of the Year). The big award, Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2017 went to Sri Lankan, Krystle Reid who is a co-founder of Enable Lanka Foundation.
The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work is an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth programme, celebrating outstanding young adults aged under 30 years old, whom are leading initiatives ranging from poverty alleviation to peace-building.