Worldwide, one in three women experiences sexual or physical violence, often from their intimate partner. In Oil Search's areas of operation, the statistics are even higher, particularly in PNG, where the United Nations describes domestic and gender-based as “endemic”.
This form of violence is a significant public health concern with long term social consequences. With around 83% PNG nationals in our workforce, Oil Search pursues opportunities to influence local dialogue about it as part of our broader commitment to respecting and supporting human rights in PNG.
Our approach includes empowering women through employment, health, education and agriculture initiatives and offering affected employees free access to specialist help through the Employee Assistance Programme.
Through the Company's women's networking groups (OWN), Oil Search and the Oil Search Health Foundation also undertake initiatives to educate and raise awareness. In November 2014, OWN organised a range of supporting activities for the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and White Ribbon Day. This initiative was led by the 2014 president of the Sydney Oil Search Women's Network (OWN), Stephanie Kreibich.
The activities included:
- Toolbox presentations and community awareness events.
- Engaging subject experts as guest speakers.
- Encouraging staff to sign personal pledge posters and display supportive banners.
- Staging the 'Crying Meri (Crying woman)' photographic exhibition at Oil Search camps, drawing attention to violence against women in PNG.
- Asking managers to add ending violence as an item to meeting agendas.
- A series of events to raise funds for relevant causes.
A 'Hold a Sign' campaign co-ordinated by OWN was particularly successful at raising funds and awareness. Employees, contractors and consultants throughout Oil Search were invited to submit photos of themselves holding a message about ending violence against women. For each photo, key Oil Search suppliers contributed up to $1,000. In total, 1,152 photos were submitted, raising a total of K47,000.
The money was donated to help the Oil Search Health Foundation manage a new safe house in PNG located in an area where the incidence of sexual and domestic violence is high.
In 2015, Oil Search will strengthen and expand its approach to women's empowerment and addressing gender-based violence.