This documentary traces the history behind the 2019 referendum in which 98% of Bougainville island (which is mainly run by women) voted for independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG)
The referendum has its history in the “Bougainville Crisis,” a ten-year insurrection which the government of PNG lost, despite receiving major military support from Australia. The independence referendum was a condition of the 2000 peace treaty.
The insurrection, in turn, stemmed from the brutal exploitation of Ophir residents, many of whom were driven off their land. The oppressors? The the PNG government and a major copper and gold mining operation run by a Rio Tinto** subsidiary. The Paguna mine closed down when the insurrection started in 1989. However even after 30 years, Ohpir’s fragile tropical ecosystem is only just starting to recover.
The film offers numerous scenes from the independence campaign, interspersed with historical background and excerpts from the 2009 DCR (Australian Development Cooperation Report), which focuses on potential strategies for Australian mining interests to recolonize the island.
Despite their landslide victory on the referendum, Ophir has yet to be granted full independence.
*Ophir is the indigenous name for Bougainville Island, currently part of Papua New Guinea
**Rio Tinto, a multinational Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate, is the second largest metal and mining corporation in the world.
Maternity Leave and Why the US is the Only Developed Nation Without It
Maternity Leave focuses on the failure of the US government to offer working mothers paid maternity leave. The US is one of two countries globally (the other is Papua New Guinea) and the only developed country without it. The rest of the world provides paid maternity leave for two simple reasons: 1) because spending time with mom is vital to newborn development and 2) because studies show financial advantages for employers, taxpayers and GDP.
Three states require employers to provide paid maternity leave: California six weeks at 55% salary, Rhode Island four weeks at 60% salary and New Jersey six weeks at 67% salary.
Ninety percent of California businesses report an increase in profitability (owing to the high cost of recruiting and training replacement workers) since they started providing paid maternity leave. Nationwide replacement workers for women who leave work to start a family cost billions of dollars. Forty percent of women without access to paid maternity leave are forced to apply for public assistance, which is also a major burden to taxpayers.
The filmmakers visit excruciatingly poor Papua New Guinea, to investigate their failure to provide paid maternity to leave – only to discover the government of Papua New Guinea provides three months paid maternity leave for public employees. This is a start contrast with an extremely anemic executive order Obama signed in 2015 allowing federal employees to “pre-use” six weeks of paid sick leave (which they haven’t earned yet) as maternity leave.
The filmmakers also visit Sweden, which has the world’s best maternity leave policy. Their generous paid parental leave (480 days per child split between both parents) has helped to bring more Swedish women into the workforce while simultaneously increasing GDP.
They interview a member of Sweden’s Feminist Party, who maintains that paid maternity leave is a matter of full equality for women. True equality means that women enjoy the same rights as men to both a job and family time – they shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
Real equality also means embracing and valuing traditional women’s work (homemaking, child care and elder care).