Liz Cosson - Gender influences

Running time
2 min 5 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I often think about the times where the commander in his role was very powerful. He was the boss man and he was very, very strong. And he had a presence about him that connected with the community. But as a female, mostly being a matriarchal society in Bougainville, they were the boss and they used to like just to stand and talk to me.

We never sat and talked. And I've always reflected on that. It was quite interesting, the boys would sit there or sit around a circle and they talk, either in the headquarters around a table or they talk on our back porch sitting around talking. And the women would just want to stand and talk to me. And we would talk for ages. And it was, I'd learned so much from just listening to them but I also learned so much about their culture and about why our role was so important to them.

They sometimes thought their husbands and their sons and the brothers were a little bit naughty and our role was really important to keep it keep them on this path and that the commander had a role in talking sense. I had a role in talking to them about helping the commander rebuild that life that they wanted so desperately back and they could see that the boys were listening to the commander.

So it was a completely different role that, I used to talk to Frank about this, that I felt that I was complementing him in his role in a completely different way. The men of Bougainville wouldn't have listened to me as they did he, as I listened to him, but the women listen to me and the men listen to the women. So it was a different approach to what we're trying to achieve.

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