Obama Foundation Leader uses the law to educate and protect the rights of women and girls
"My motto is: if not me, then who?" said Emma Minimbi.
She is a 2023 Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Leader, who knows firsthand the impact of violence in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
“I grew up seeing a lot of domestic violence around me. As a child, I saw my mother pack her bags and leave because of it,” Minimbi reflected. “I realized later that women and girls were always the domestic help, child bearer, laborer, and caregiver, but never the decision maker like men. In order to change the status quo, I had to be the change I wished to see by completing my education and becoming a lawyer.”
Minimbi says she wanted to give women and girls a chance to advocate for themselves. Today, she is a lawyer and pro bono consultant with Ashurst PNG. She also practices law at Daniel Piam Lawyers based in the Western Highlands Province.
Minimbi shared that domestic violence in PNG is often under-reported and under-investigated, as it is in many other places. She uses the law and the power of community to help eradicate gender-based violence, sorcery accusation-related violence, and other forms of violence against women and girls in Papua New Guinea.
“I am involved in advocacy and outreach work regarding gender-based violence and sorcery-accusation-related violence in rural communities, especially in my own village,” Minimbi said. “Rural communities have limited access to opportunity, money, and education. Many community members are illiterate so I do my best to promote and protect their rights through legal education. I utilize the Family Protection Act 2013 Opens in a new tab to apply for Interim Protection Orders for gender-based violence survivors and sorcery-accusation-related violence victims against the perpetrators.”
In addition to her pro bono work, Minimbi is the public officer and chairperson of the Roni Pingrui Community Development Association, an organization working to promote and protect women’s rights, address climate change, and promote access to education and equal opportunity for women and girls in Kintau Village and Wurup in Jiwaka Province.
She says her involvement in the Asia-Pacific Leaders program has allowed her to leverage her skills and gain a deeper understanding of herself in relation to her cause.
“This program has helped me find a work-life balance. The coaching sessions have allowed me to step back and rediscover who Emma is, aside from her career aspirations and achievements,” she said.
“I am privileged to be a part of a phenomenal program that develops, molds, and installs leadership skills in changemakers across the globe,” she added.
Minimbi says she feels the positive effects of her work in her community and she hopes that they are long lasting.
“I want to leave my community, country, and world in a better position than when I came into it. My hope for women and girls in Papua New Guinea is that they l become all they dream to be,” she said. “I hope they are respected in their communities and contribute equally to the development of the country. One day, I hope and believe that women and girls will lead the country and hold leadership roles in corporations and in government.”