Women face serious risks in pursuing income because of restrictive gender norms, according to a report released today by Oxfam and the Australian Government initiative Strongim Bisnis.
The ‘Community perceptions of gender norms and economic opportunity in Solomon Islands’ report, funded by Oxfam and the Australian Government, identified several major barriers for women such as unpaid work in the home, violence and sexual harassment, and limited decision-making control.
Minister of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Lanelle Tanangada said, “Women have a fundamental role in our economy – 90 per cent of the income from tourism is generated by women, 90 per cent of the vendors at the central market in Honiara are women, and they make up at le#Auast 50 per cent of the agricultural workforce.”
“We must address issues that hinder women’s economic empowerment, and with the recommendations in this study, work out ways to disrupt and drive changes. This report will contribute to the implementation of the Solomon Islands National Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Development, including other international, regional and national commitments to advancing gender and women’s empowerment,” she said.
Australian High Commission Counsellor Economics Andrew Schloeffel said, “Women’s economic empowerment is a human right and an instrument for growth, poverty reduction and family prosperity. This report has found that economic incentives are the most likely levers for shifting norms around men and women’s roles. Australia is committed to supporting government and the private sector in policies and strategies that influence these changes.”
Oxfam in Solomon Islands Country Director Dolores Devesi explained how men’s involvement and understanding is necessary for women’s initial steps towards claiming their rights and economic empowerment.
“We worked with communities to reflect on their experiences and values, asking questions like ‘How is the money shared?’ and ‘What factors could lead to men helping at home?’ It was surprising to learn young women spend up to 23.5 hours caring for infants in the home.”
The report was based on a study conducted in three communities within three provinces – Guadalcanal, Malaita and Western Province – all of which have both matrilineal and patrilineal traditions. Communities were supported to analyse their roles in the cocoa, coconut and tourism sectors, as well as work relating to vegetable and handicraft production and sales. Furthermore, the report will help provide the evidence needed for the implementation of these Province’s gender and women’s policies. Malaita and Western Province launched theirs in March and July 2018, respectively and Guadalcanal Province launched theirs in 2016 and was amended in 2017.