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Oxfam and Strongim Bisnis launch study to tackle gender norms

Strongim Bisnis and Oxfam in Solomon Islands have launched a joint study into the gender norms that impact the economic empowerment of women and young people in rural communities in the Solomon Islands.

The study will provide an opportunity for three communities in provinces Guadalcanal, Malaita and Western to contribute their experiences and insights as well as provide recommendations for inclusive and gender-just economic development initiatives, especially in the cocoa, coconut and tourism sectors.

Gender and youth development teams from Strongim Bisnis and Oxfam will work with community members to explore the distribution of unpaid care and domestic work in families and communities. The study commenced last week at Kolona Community in GPPOL, North East Guadalcanal.

“Women and girls bear an unequal burden of unpaid care and domestic work such as childcare, cooking and cleaning. This is in addition to their expanding role as family breadwinners,” says Afu Billy, Gender Justice Manager of Oxfam Solomon Islands. “While unpaid care and domestic work is essential to our economy, it is rarely recognised and has not yet received much policy focus. This not only limits women’s and girls’ time to pursue business and leisure opportunities for personal and family wellbeing, but also places them at higher risk of poverty and violence.”

Afu says the study will be working with communities to explore the different opportunities and barriers to economic benefits that different groups in the community face. “This includes women, men, young women and men, elderly people, widows, single mothers and people with disabilities.”

Gianluca Nardi, Strongim Bisnis Women’s Economic Empowerment Director, said Australia’s objective is to support inclusive economic growth in Solomon Islands with a strong focus on women’s economic empowerment. “Women have a fundamental role in the economy in Solomon Islands – 90% of the income from tourism is generated by women, 90% of the vendors at the central market in Honiara are women, and as at least 50% of the workforce in agriculture. However, the disproportionate time that women spend at home as well norms around decision making on assets and leadership positions in general hinder women’s capacity to develop their economic activities and this in turn has a negative effect on the competitiveness of key sectors in the economy as well as on the individual households.

Global evidence shows that economic development initiatives will have limited impact and can actually cause harm to women and girls if they do not address negative gender norms and promote women’s rights for the benefit of whole households, including men and boys.

The study partnership between Oxfam in Solomon Islands and Strongim Bisnis is supported by the Australian Government’s bilateral aid program. With a strong focus on Women’s Economic Empowerment. The study, its recommendations and follow up actions will contribute to the implementation of the Solomon Islands Solomon Islands National Policy on Gender Equality and Women's Development.  

Strongim Bisnis is an Australian Government Initiative

Strongim Bisnis is implemented by Adam Smith International

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