Transcript of Mollina Kapal’s interview with Radio 4EB Community Ethnic Radio

The following is an excerpt from an interview on 4EB Community Ethnic Radio of Mollina Kapal. Mollina is from Papua New Guinea and was a participant of the dialogue held by the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships or ICDP, in Brisbane, Australia. Mollina was one of the few representatives from the government sector. She works for NICTA, the ICT statutory agency based in Port Moresby. In the interview, she discusses her takeaways from the dialogue and the situation of women and girls in PNG. The event, a Pacific Connect Network Dialogue on ‘Pacific Women in Business and Digital Delivery’, took place from 17-20 February 2019.

 Maureen: I spoke to a participant from Papua New Guinea, Mollina Kapal. Mollina was one of few representatives from the government sector at the workshop. The workshop attendees were from the private sector and there were a few government representatives from the Pacific region. Mollina works for NICTA, the ICT statutory agency based in Port Moresby. In our interview, Mollina speaks about why she was here, what she has learnt and what she intends to adapt in PNG. We also talk generally about the situation of women and girls in PNG. First, Mollina Kapal discusses the Pacific workshop with ICDP (International Centre for Democratic Partnerships).

 Mollina: Most of my fellow attendees of Pacific connect were other Pacific females, wanting to enter entrepreneurship. Many were SMEs that would like to develop start-ups in our ICT space. The International Centre for Democratic Partnerships invited six of us from PNG, as well as other participants from the Pacific Islands. There was also one Māori, but she is originally from the Niue so she regards herself as a New Zealander.

Maureen: So, what sort of programmes did you participate in whilst you were here?

 Mollina: The workshop comprised mainly of proposing new ideas, and discussing how we can venture into business. Women were tasked with bringing up different ideas, ideas focused around what they are doing currently and ideas that will assist them to build their businesses or build other business avenues that others propose. These could then be built on as a team or as individuals. If the ideas proposed were sustainable, ICDP would then undertake an assessment, and if the business was deemed viable the ICDP could agree to partner or find partners to set up or fund those business ideas.

Maureen: Did you find the programmes and workshops interesting?

 Mollina: I found the programme and workshops very interesting, especially as I come from a government background and 90-95% of participants were from business backgrounds. Their business perspectives allowed me a fresh insight into how I view the private sector, and made me question whether I should enter into it. In hindsight that was lovely, given I hadn’t previously thought of going into business. I think I have a very different view after the discussion dialogue, the takeaway from this for me personally is that I know I have, to look at things differently now. I don’t want to stay in the public sector forever. So, I think it has given me the tools to start thinking ahead.

Maureen: So, what will you be intending to do? What is your dream?

Mollina: In the future, I would love to propose solutions, that is my dream. As I am in the ICT space I think that would come in the form of consultation, consulting for hands on things like developing apps or consulting for how to plan solutions. People in these areas need help, and there’s an abundance of areas in PNG where solutions can be provided using ICT platforms. That’s a rough idea of what I’m thinking, hopefully in the near future I’ll come up with something solid.

 Maureen: So, will you be looking at helping women, girls and families specifically, or the whole community?

Mollina: The solutions I would like to propose target women and girls, I think there’s a real need for this in PNG.  Most of the apps and I think the majority of the solutions I would like to propose would be targeted at rural communities. Obviously, ICT does not build roads, schools or bridges but it can connect these rural communities to the rest of the world and bring these people closer, so these are the kind of solutions I would like to propose later-on.

Maureen: It’s a challenge because a majority (80%) of the people live in rural areas, isn’t it?

 Mollina: Yes, it used to be at first, prior to ICT it was incredibly difficult to connect rural communities to the rest of the world, however after the introduction of mobile phones, TV and so on the impact would be significant. Understanding that impact, I want to capitalise on ICT, not just on mobile phones but the applications behind them, for example; e-banking and e-marketing. I want to be able to bring service right to the doorsteps of people in rural areas.

Maureen: Good, and just tell us, where are you from, what’s your family heritage and what do you work as in Papua New Guinea?

 Mollina: I am from the Jiwaka province in PNG, one of the new provinces that was established five years ago and both my parents up from Jiwaka. My dad resides in Madang, my mum also used to reside in Madang but actually she was based in Jiwaka as a teacher and my dad works as a workshop manager in Madang, so I went back and forth. I would have the best of both provinces, I grew up on the highway travelling so that was good. I live in Port Moresby myself, and that is where I am currently based. I work for NICTA, National Information & Communications Technology Authority in PNG, so I basically regulate the ICT industry in the country with government statutory body. I work as a Principal Projects Engineer for ICT applications. It is a very interesting field and coming to the workshop has provided me with an opportunity to see that solutions I would propose, would be at a larger scale.

 In my job on my day-to-day basis, I see solutions at a larger scale, but after attending this conference I see these solutions as avenues where I can make money, my projects mostly serve the people of PNG but they are very broad. I would like to go into something that is my passion and create something that will benefit people in my community, one community at a time, so it is a customised kind of thing. If I propose a solution for the Islands region it may or may not be the same solution for the coastal, or for the four regions. This is the kind of area I want to work in. I want to be able to achieve the best solutions I can provide whilst also taking into consideration the cultural context of providing the solution. This is important so that the people can understand the solution and it is fully incorporated into customs, that way they can appreciate the value and use it. I think that idea is something that I have taken from this conference, and I will be able to integrate it into my job.

PNG is very diverse, there are more than 800 languages, you cannot understand all of them. It is very complex in culture, the neighbouring languages can be very different from one another even though it might be within a 20km radius, it is difficult to understand. It is a complex culture and it would be complex providing solutions for the people there. You are coming from the culture and if you are able to find solutions to suit their culture then it would work. I believe having this experience of coming and meeting new people, seeing new technologies, in the way I have at the Dialogue has given me perceptions on what women are doing as a whole. The women that are here, they are doing their best to meet the needs that are being overlooked by the majority of manufacturing companies or those in big industry. There are smaller players that work together to meet certain needs or certain people in a cultural context so this is something I am taking from the dialogue. I am very grateful, maybe there is something that I can look at in the future so that I don’t get too comfortable where I am.  So that I give my best to addressing future solutions.

Maureen: I’m pretty sure you’re going to do your best. You did mention that you travelled the world. Do you want to tell us where you went or what you did?

Mollina: Mostly my job involves going to conferences and workshops. I’ve been to the UK, I did my Diploma in the US in broadcasting. I went to South Korea to finish my Masters in e-Government. I travelled mostly to the Asian regions, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, also to the Pacific, Vanuatu, Fiji and to New Zealand and Australia. My work allows me to see what the rest of the world is doing and compare it to PNG. I only wish that I can bring my country to that stage, so these are some of the experiences I bring back with me and try my best to address in my work.

Maureen: Are there opportunities for young women and young girls to engage with in Papua New Guinea?

Mollina: In PNG, the culture is very different to the rest of the world. We have to fight for females as it is a challenging society for them to grow up in. I don’t think most societies in the rest of the world understand the kind of environment that females find themselves in, in PNG. They don’t understand the sorts of expectations and demands that men and wider society place on us. Females in PNG are trying to venture into fields that are male dominated and that is very challenging, but I don’t see any different make-up in the mental capabilities of females. The physical DNA of women is different, but otherwise we have the same capacity, the same ability to do exactly what men are doing in society. I have noticed from experience, that females do a better job even if we do the same thing, we outdo the men. Interestingly we can multitask, we can do everything men can do, but we do it a little bit better, and we balance our families, our work, society, everything.

I think women are just amazing creatures. It is interesting and I wish the rest of the world could see it from our eyes, see the struggles and all of that. I am sure that if the world was exposed to the struggles, they would appreciate the make-up of the women of PNG. I am pretty-sure women in PNG are burdened by of the hardest scenarios to grow up in. If PNG women can survive growing up in that sort of environment, they can survive anywhere.

Maureen: Thank you very much for your time. That is Mollina Kapal of Jiwaka, PNG here in Brisbane for the Pacific Connect International Centre for Democratic Partnership Workshop. This workshop is also sponsored by the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs, Women and Business Dialogue.