blog / Lady Winifred Kamit

Fri, 10 February, 2017

Lady Winifred Kamit

First published in issue 1, August 2012

LADY WINIFRED KAMIT CBE IS A SENIOR PARTNER AT GADENS LAWYERS IN PORT MORESBY. AMONG OTHER THINGS SHE IS CHAIRPERSON OF COALITION FOR CHANGE PNG, AN INITIATIVE AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
 

IN YOUR 20s

What were you doing?

I turned 20 in my third year of studies at the University of PNG. I was doing my Bachelor of Arts majoring in Education and Psychology. When I graduated a year later I was posted to teach at Madina Girls High School, New Ireland, the secondary school I had attended before I went to uni. I met my husband Wilson at uni. We married after we had finished our respective studies and started a family, with two children – a daughter and a son. So, in my 20s I had joined the working class, married, and had our two children. My working life saw me being employed by the Department of Education, initially as a secondary teacher, the as Regional Guidance Officer for the Southern Region (Papua as it was then known), Executive Officer (as it was then called) to the Ombudsman Commission and Commissioner of the Public Services Commission of PNG.

What were your aspirations?

I had dreamed of becoming a lawyer. However, my parents wanted me to follow the footsteps of my three brothers who were teachers. I respected my parents’ wishes, did a BA, but secretly promised myself that I would study law later. This I achieved when in 1987 I completed my law degree and graduated in February of 1988.

What was the highlight of these years?

Having my two children.

What was your fashion sense like?

I had no idea about fashion and had no particular sense about what styles were out there. Whilst at uni, it was the bell-bottomed jeans with baggy t-shirts or meri-blouse for me. I discarded the jeans for dresses, skirts and blouses after I left uni to start work. My favourites were the culottes (a pair of long or short pants which flared out like a skirt).

Do you have any regrets from these years?

No. No regrets. In fact, I enjoyed every minute of my 20s. PNG was gearing up for self-government and ultimately, independence. Uni life was bustling with discussions on what independence would mean, against the backdrop of the Mataugan Association “Movement” in East New Britain, the Papua Besena platform in Papua and on the wider international level, the “Women’s Liberation” continuing discussions, with Germiane Greer taking a lead role on this issue and much more. The University forum, which was run by the Student Union, was where some very thought-provoking debates took place. When I joined the workforce, working alongside Australian seconded employees with the emphasis on training on the job and to implement the nationalization of the national public service was an experience I treasure. It was truly a partnership, which ensured the delivery of services, as well as the implementation of the localisation policy. Great friendships were formed. Many have remained my close friends.
 

IN YOUR 30s

What were you doing?

I turned 30 in the final year of my term as the member of the Public Services Commission. When my term there ended, it was then that I decided to enroll at UPNG to do law. Each year of my studies, I borrowed from ANZ Bank to help with my uni-related expenses and worked part-time for various organisations to help service the loan. On graduating with a degree in law and still in my 30s, I joined Gadens Lawyers. Five years on, I was made partner of the firm.

What were your aspirations?

The opportunity to return to university and study law was the answer to my dream of becoming a lawyer. I also dreamed of owning my own law firm. In a way that has been achieved in the form of my admission as an equity partner with Gadens in 1996.

What was the highlight of these years?

Being given the responsibility to be managing partner of Gadens Lawyers, Port Moresby, a position I held for five years.

What was your fashion sense like?

Workwise there was not a lot of choice. It was a black skirt and a white blouse, with a collar. I still do not have a particular leaning on any fashion style. Outside of work, I dress in what I feel good in. I am not a jeans or trousers person. I like the classic cut in dresses and skirts with no frills.

Do you have any regrets from these years?

No regrets.

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