First PNG woman for peacekeeping duties

Major Jacqueline Lilih

Major Jacqueline Lilih has been posted to the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Sudan, the first female PNG military officer to be deployed sent on such a tour of duty.

Major Lilih departs for South Sudan today (21 Nov) where she will serve for a year.

This is the 14th deployment since the PNG Defence Force started sending officers there in 2010.

Acting Chief of Defence Commodore Philip Polewara said during a farewell event yesterday that Maj Lilih’s posting was a breakthrough for women in the force.

He said it was encouraging to have a woman representing the country on an international peacekeeping mission.

“In a male-dominated society, this is some of the barriers that we are breaking – especially the cultural barrier by supporting our women to be up there.”

Major Lilih is the only female officer to serve as an Aide de Camp during Brigadier-General Francis Agwi’s term.

Lilih was thankful for the opportunity and thanked the PNGDF for believing in her and recommending her.

“The PNGDF has equal opportunities and the field is open. Whatever your career is, set your mind towards achieving more,” she said.

Lilih encouraged female officers to be diligent so that they could earn benefits like their male counterparts. “There will be a lot of obstacles that will drag you down and we are competing with our male colleagues for all these opportunities. But don’t be scared to venture out,” she said.