Imagining a world free from bias, stereotypes and discrimination was a harder task than Papua New Guinea international Alwin Komolong expected, but far from impossible.
The 27-year-old took time out of his preparations for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers to discuss International Women’s Day and the role men, like himself, can play in breaking the bias.
“My understanding of International Women’s Day and this year’s theme Breaking The Bias, is that on a social level, a political level, a socio-economic level there are biases against women that we as a society have, and we need to break those down.
“We need to try and treat each other equally and with the respect that everyone deserves. We shouldn’t be judging people on what gender they are, but treating them with respect regardless,” Komolong said.
Komolong has lived in a number of different countries, each with their own unique cultures, including the USA, New Zealand and Germany.
He believes there is work to be done across the globe.
“There are biases in every level of society, I believe,” he stated, “globally, across cultures, there are different inherited biases.
“In Papua New Guinea we have a lot of domestic violence, socio-related violence against women, and we have an underrepresentation of women in Parliament. That’s not necessarily a bias, but it shows there’s an inherent bias in our society.
“That’s what it looks like to me anyway, that’s what I see and I think it has a lot to do with the cultures we are raised in and I believe it starts with society to try and break down those barriers.”
What Papua New Guinea might look like as a gender equal society is not something Komolong has thought about too much. However, he knows what he’d like to see.
“I would hope that it’s a society that treats each other with respect, treats each other like human beings, gives each other the benefit of the doubt and equality of opportunity,” he explained.
“I think opportunities is a big equality factor and we should all be given the same opportunities, not based on if we’re a boy or girl, but on the content of our character, our skills and who we are as a person.”
Clearly Komolong understands that in its current state, global society is not equal.
But he remains dedicated to doing his part to influence the change needed to close the gaps, and eliminate the barriers to achieving gender equality.
“I think gender equality is achievable in PNG and globally, but it will take a lot of work,” he said.
“Again, it’s stemmed from culture and cultural norms are hard to break, but it’s definitely possible. We’re a society that wants to see that happen and if we head in that direction in generations to come we can definitely achieve that goal.
Komolong said there is plenty more that can be done across communities, and closer to home too.
“There’s always more we can be doing. There’s more I can be doing,” he said.
“I think it’s on us to hold each other accountable. I think that’s one thing that’s lacking; being accountable, holding each other accountable if someone makes a misstep or shows a certain bias.”
Having been in the headlines since he earned his first youth international cap in 2011, Komolong can be considered a prominent personality in Papua New Guinea, and across the Pacific.
That gives him collateral to shape, guide and lead others in the journey to an equal society.
“All I can really do is try to empower women in my society and by leading by example, people can maybe catch onto that and it will have a snowball effect.
“If one person starts doing it, maybe it will affect others and they will see that women should be treated equally for what they to society, the value they add.”