Maino proves herself a cut above the critics

Lucy Maino, centre, with national team co-captains Sandra Birum and Deslyn Siniu in 2019. Credit: Leo Jakanduo
Lucy Maino, centre, with national team co-captains Sandra Birum and Deslyn Siniu in 2019. Credit: Leo Jakanduo

Throughout her term as Miss Papua New Guinea Pacific Islands, Lucy Maino has been an impeccable ambassador for the country and football, an advocate for women’s empowerment and an all-round outstanding role model for young people across Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region.

So to see the furore that exploded out of a post shared to video-sharing app Tik Tok mar the end of an outstanding two year reign was disappointing.

However through the intense backlash, online harassment and bullying she endured, not to mention the deeply apparent cultural misogyny, Maino has remained a pillar of class and integrity.

This week she broke her silence and put to bed any doubt that Lucy Maino, with her two Pacific Games gold medals, her business administration degree and her campaigning for women’s rights, was, is, and remains, a role model for women everywhere.

Lucy Maino statement:

“Since August 2019 I have been extremely honored to serve as Miss Papua New Guinea/Pacific Islands. During my reign I had the opportunity to: serve as a youth representative when the United Nations Deputy Secretary General visited; be the first Miss Papua New Guinea/Pacific Islands to visit the women’s unit at Bomana Prison; and used my voice to advocate for the empowerment of women through sport.

When my term ended in late 2020, rather than hand the crown to my successor, the pandemic presented other plans. A pageant could not be held and therefore when asked to continue my service as Miss Papua New Guinea/Pacific Islands, I willingly agreed.

However, the time has come to move forward with the next chapter of my life. While some have implied that the crown was taken from me, that is not the case. Instead, in agreement with the Pageant Committee, I completed my service as Miss PNG Pacific Islands 2019-2020. I thank the Pageant Committee, partners and sponsors to the pageant, as well as the many who have supported me; The PNG Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence, The United Nations in Papua New Guinea, and especially my sponsor, Paga Hill Estate. I also want to thank the many people who have reached out to me in the past few weeks with messages of encouragement and support.

The opportunity to represent PNG on this unique platform gave me a great perspective on the visibility and value of the Pageant to not only each participant, but more importantly to young women across our land. Further, my interactions with many young women, and my own recent public adversities has given me a fresh perspective on the struggles our women face to simply be their authentic selves. I am someone who grows stronger with adversity but my heart goes out to those who have faced similar experiences without the kind of support I have received and who fail to see the ignorance for what it is.

Thus, as I have completed my term, I will continue to help others. This experience inspired me to use my voice for those who have no voice and to stand strong against those who desire to tear down and destroy young women. In the words of Governor Allan Bird, “What kind of society does not condemn the torture and killing of women yet gets upset when a young woman does a dance video.” My hope is that we as a society can focus on the right priorities. We must grow to be more accepting of one another, to be kinder to one another, and to learn to appreciate our individuality and diversity which is one of the many things that makes PNG unique.

Unfortunately, my recent adversities serves as sad reminder of how far we have to go as a country. While I endured public abuse and harassment online, thousands of women around the country and the world are being subjected to daily physical and psychological abuse. Quite often they are silent, in constant fear of further abuse and backlash. These women, and sometimes men, are sadly not as privileged as me. I have decided to use the platform I have to be a voice for women and men like these who need all of us to take a stand on their behalf.

As I move forward with my career and education I will look back on this experience with gratitude for the opportunity I had to be Miss Papua New Guinea/Pacific Islands 2019-2020 and for the love and support that has been shown to me personally. I have immense gratitude for those who are working to make PNG a land of opportunity for all and am committed to continue to contribute where I can.

Thank you for your strength, courage, resilience and integrity throughout this adversity Lucy. We, your Pasifika Sisters, are behind you 100 per cent.

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