“I always wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t get over my fear of blood”, says Ms Priscilla Raepom, Editor of “New Age Woman” magazine. Fortunately for Papua New Guinea’s women, she never did get over that fear and so studied Journalism instead, because of a love of English literature from an early age.
“I would have enjoyed being a gynaecologist… it’s all about the wonderful miracle of life”, she said.
New Age Woman (NAW for short), with a circulation of 33,000, is the country’s most prestigious lifestyle magazine and is becoming increasingly popular with the Nation’s males.
When the ‘Reader Multiplier’ effect is added in, it means that close to a third of a million people read NAW each month.
“Thirty-four percent of our readers are male”, Ms Raepom explained. “I think they often read it because many are becoming curious about ‘just what makes women tick’.”
The magazine has a broad target audience, including young women who want to make the most of their appearance, business women, and people who are simply interested in hair and make-up trends and fashions.
New Age Woman sees itself as having a major role in assisting Papua New Guinean women to improve their lives in a number of ways.
With supportive colleagues – both males and females, Ms Raepom has been at the helm of the popular mag since 2000.
“It’s my baby. “The colleagues I started with have now all moved on, and I have plenty of confidence to manage the magazine myself.”
“I also like to think that NAW helps men learn to support their wives and girlfriends better. “That’s one of the reasons why we introduced ‘Man of the Month’ – as a role model for Papua New Guinea men”, she said.
Although often touching on subjects that some people might consider sensitive, Ms Raepom gets few complaints.
“We’re always very careful in our photographs and articles.”
In 1990 she had the choice between a Secondary Scholarships Program place in a Charters Towers (Queensland) high school or a National high school in PNG.
“I chose the first option, because I’ve always loved travelling and meeting new people. “I really had a ball”, she said.
“The experience made me become more independent and able to appreciate other cultures as well as my own. “The people were warm and welcoming and I still keep in touch with all of the friends I made during those three years.”
Doing most of the writing and helping with promotions means Ms Raepom doesn’t get a lot of spare time. A strong believer in teamwork, she wants people on her team who carry their weight and really want to see something work well.
“Everybody’s part of an extended family in Papua New Guinea. “I know I’ve got over 100 first cousins, just for starters.”
“I value greatly my culture and our traditions, but it’s good to have a balance; a mix of the old and the new”, she said.
“But most of all I see my role as empowering women; providing essential information and improving their lives – in other words, helping them put their lives in order.”