BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
ACCORDING to “Do No Harm: Understanding the Relationship between Women’s Economic Empowerment and Violence Against Women in Melanesia”, there are considerable differences between women in rural areas and the capital in how they depend on income generating activities.
Yesterday, Associate Professor Richard Eves from the Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University presented key findings of the above study.
He explained that the research project which took place in Solomon Islands in 2014 and focused on rural women’s income generating activities and savings groups as well as formally employed women in the capital.
Moreover, Mr Eves said that although there are considerable differences between the two research areas, there are also significant similarities such as the rigid adherence to unequal gender roles and discriminatory social norms.
He stressed that for women who were formally employed, most of them still had to secure ways of other income generating activities to support what they already earn to help sustain living conditions in the capital.
“Life for the women we interviewed in Honiara was perhaps more precarious than for the women in the rural communities,” said Eves.
In addition, he said that since access to gardening land is limited for women in the capital, they are more dependent on cash income than women in the rural areas who have sufficient land to plant crops for subsistence even if earning cash income is difficult.
“Several of the women we interviewed in Honiara who were forced to pursue other income generating activities to supplement their income, remarked how exhausted this made them and the negative impact this had on their family life, especially being unable to spend time with their children,” said Eves.
He furthers that despite the differences both parties have, what is common between them is the difficulties relating to generating income.
Eves noted that women’s lack of access to worthwhile markets and their exclusion from value chains illustrates that their efforts to extend their income generating activities into small businesses is curtailed.