Pacific Women's Network interviews Dorcas Gano, HWC President
Reproduced from the Pacific Women's Network Mini-mag, August 2018.
Dorcas, what do you love most about what you do?
I love working with the women as we carry out our workplans together and also seeing the developments that we have made, the women’s responses and all the changes for the better in our local communities. I really love to see these changes happen because, at HWC, we have identified the needs and we have used our own creative ways to meet them. We have implemented our own vision within the community.
My HWC roles have opened out my life beyond the village and my church work where I am the Youth Coordinator in the United Church for Hako Constituency. I enjoy the travel and interaction with women from all over Bougainville, the Pacific and the international connections.
And how would you say this role expresses your strengths?
I enjoy tasking everybody in the community, and in our organisation, by using everyone’s talents and strengths as part of the whole. I really ‘get’ the BIG picture and can see how everybody can carry their own parts, and offer their fair share of resources, so that no one is burdened and everyone is happy to contribute. I enjoy seeing it all come together with everyone happy for the fairness of his or her own contributions. The excitement of the result is always a joy to me.
I have learned to transfer my organisational logistic and management strengths, which have developed over many years from my clan and village responsibilities, into partnerships between community service organisations, non-government and government organisations and the Hako Women’s Collective. We collectively use our various skills at many levels within our Community Government in Hako, for Buka District, and for wider Bougainville projects and programs.
Dorcas, could you share with us the top things that you have learned to be a success in your occupation?
One: Firstly, the need to ensure good planning before implementation.
Two: Then there is the need to be inclusive and to help unite other women’s organisations for mutual benefit.
Three: We have learned not to take offence at criticism but to listen and reach out to those who criticise. We have discovered that those who criticise may feel left out, sometimes people even fear the name ‘collective’ and so we need to explain ourselves and invite their participation.
Four: The love and compassion that guides us means that we need to respond to those in need. This has led HWC to rescue families from family and sexual violence with our ‘Meri Seif Haus’ and support them with counselling and referrals, positive parenting courses, disability rehabilitation services, the End Violence Against Children campaign and our women’s network of human rights defenders.
Five: As a women’s organisation we cannot operate in a vacuum, we need to always have the support of youth and men, the chiefs and elders, all the churches and other leaders in the community.
Six: I have learned a lot more about myself – who I am, my own beliefs and values, my attitudes to others and how important my responses are to others. My responsibility for my own behaviour can make or break a situation, so I need to make good choices.
Who do you look to for inspiration in your career Dorcas?
The inspiring leadership roles of my life are: my brother Moses, and his wife Marilyn, who has become my mentor; my sister Jessie who is a Nursing Sister and the women of the BWPF (Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom).
The BWPF women led the way in women’s voluntary community development during the Bougainville conflict and took part in the Peace Negotiations, they then came to Hako to help the formation of the HWC. Josie Kauona, Hona Holan and so many of our women and elder women continue to inspire me.
If someone wanted to pursue this career path, what advice would you give them?
I would encourage them to join in with what we are doing. I would tell them that they must complete what they set out to do, and they must do all they can to achieve good results and to not give up. They must be prepared to step forward and count the cost – be prepared to contribute beyond average levels and learn to self-sacrifice within healthy limits.
What role has networking played in your journey ?
Networking has been most significant as it has opened up workshop opportunities for me and for all the women. We have learned information and skills about organisational development and advocacy so that HWC is where we are today.
And Dorcas how do you balance all the roles that you play in your life?
I have family, clan, school, church (which includes youth coordinating role and women’s fellowship) responsibilities as well as the HWC Presidency role. I think through how to balance everything and how to cover all the bases, and I work hard and am self disciplined to be ready for every occasion. I communicate with family, and all those who need to be informed, about how I will carry out my commitments. I am also prepared to negotiate and adjust my plans according to everyone’s group needs and arrangements, in that way I try to remain flexible but dependable.
Thank you so much for taking the time Dorcas, how did you find all of these questions?
These questions are all good ones, they are challenging. They have made me think and evaluate myself.
Thank you Dorcas, it has been a pleasure interviewing you.
Helen Dakin (Sydney supporter)
* Education, training for life skills, leadership, community advocacy