COVID-19 provides new opportunities for women in rural PNG

Live & Learn is sharing stories of female empowerment under the International Women’s Day theme of #ChooseToChallenge.


Many women in rural Papua New Guinea traditionally make their living by selling cooked and raw foods at roadside stalls. Restrictions imposed by COVID-19 have prevented them from being able to trade and sell from their stalls, severely interrupting their income streams.

At the same time import restrictions have reduced people’s access to supplies from urban centres, impacting women’s ability to purchase personal health and menstrual products. 

Live & Learn Papua New Guinea has recognised an opportunity to both diversify women’s income streams and provide access to much needed hygiene products made unavailable due to restrictions in imports.  Live & Learn is conducting workshops in 20 wards, focusing on teaching women the skills needed to create soap, face masks and reusable menstrual pads.


The workshop training is designed to both empower women through providing alternative income streams for financial independence and the confidence provided by learning new skills. 

Entrepreneurial initiative by local women saw local herbs (moringa and pawpaw) added to the soap mixture. These local oils are used in the traditional treatment of skin diseases. 

“Women are the direct beneficiaries of the training activities while the introduction of new skills into rural communities will also benefit the broader community by improving access to hygiene materials produced and sold, improving the local economy,” said Live & Learn Papua New Guinea. 

“The participants who attended the training are very proud of their new skills and feel empowered to actively pursue this as a new source of income in their villages. In doing so they can make extra money from the sales and save money which normally would have been spent on soap and disposable pads.” 

These activities have been made possible through the Water for Women Project and the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, in partnership with Plan International and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 


To learn more about International Women’s Day and how you can get involved visit their website, here.