Janet Sape, PNG champion of women’s rights

When Janet Sape died late July at the age of 58, the Pacific region lost one its best-known advocates on women’s issues, particularly on the need for economic empowerment and financial freedom. She was the founder and Executive Director of PNG Women in Business.

As a Director on the Board of Women’s Microbank, Janet was instrumental in establishing the organisation – the first microfinance institution devoted to women in the Pacific and only the fourth in the world. She also represented women and girls on the National Capital District Commission Board.

Janet trained and worked as a teacher before realising she had a talent for business that could help women to pursue entrepreneurship and boost their family income. She supported countless women to start up and manage small businesses through mentoring, coaching and mobilising finance to allow business growth.

Janet started PNG Women in Business to ensure women had the tools and advice needed to be successful, while at the same time linking them to other businesswomen and to national and international markets. The organisation started with a handful of members and is now the peak body for female entrepreneurs with more than 20,000 members.

Janet was named as the winner of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) First PNG Iconic Women for 2015 and Winner of the 2015 Westpac Outstanding Woman of the Year.

Janet was a candidate in four national elections, including the most recent one in July 2017. She was also a professional netball player, representing PNG and the Pacific in the world championships before coaching the national team and eventually becoming president of the PNG Netball Federations.

Greg Pawson, Westpac’s Regional Head of South Asia and Pacific, said: “She was instrumental in setting-up Women’s Microbank, the first microfinance institution in the Pacific devoted to women, and only the fourth in the world. Her energy and charisma, and her desire to help all Papua New Guineans whoever and wherever they are, made her an exceptional ambassador for PNG.”


Compiled from an article originally published on the Pacific Women in Business website www.pacificwomeninbusiness.com.au. Reproduced with permission of Westpac Pacific.

This portrait of Janet Sape was first published by the Pacific Community for the 70 Inspiring Women campaign, it is reproduced here with their permission.

The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.

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