Women's economic empowerment and domestic violence in Melanesia
An Australian NGO is hoping to research the link between women's economic empowerment and domestic violence in Melanesia.
The International Women's Development Agency says as some Melanesian women star to reap the benefits of economic empowerment, they're becoming more at risk of falling victim to jealousy.
The agency is hoping to investigate this link further in partnership with the Australian National University, and is waiting on a decision on a grant from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Its Pacific Programme Manager, Lee Fitzroy, says that with women's economic empowerment being key goals of both New Zealand and Australia's aid programmes, this link needs to be better understood and overcome.
LEE FITZROY: What we'd like to do is explore the fact that anecdotally people are aware that sometimes women who've experienced opportunities for empowerment, like access to increased skills or knowledge or money or resources or confidence or self-esteem, when they go back home, when they go back into their families that can sometimes change the power dynamics. And, for men in families they sometimes feel threatened by the change in the relationship at home and they might respond to that by increasing their use of power and control, sometimes that's through violence. Intimate partner violence can include physical violence, or sexual or emotional or economic or verbal violence. So, this is the stories we've been hearing.
JAMIE TAHANA: Does a lot of it come down to a sense of jealousy?
LF: Yeah, women we've spoken to certainly speak about jealousy. They speak of jealousy sometimes from other women as well as men in communities, that they have had opportunities, they may have more resources, more status, they may have the opportunities to come to Australia on a scholarship and study in University. They may have an opportunity to earn some more status in their community or earn resources that give their children more opportunities. So, sometimes people talk about jealousy. Sometimes it can be that feeling of other people in communities, or other people in the family feeling left behind. So I think there are a myriad reasons why violence against women may be perpetrated. That's why we really want to do the research. We want to be able to hear the stories from women and men. From leaders in communities And the stories will be collected through local community researchers.
JT: Is there any answer as to how this could be overcome or is this what you're hoping to research?
LF: This is what we're hoping to research. We have a huge body of knowledge internationally about violence against women. I think what we're really hoping to explore is the relationship between women's experience of violence and women's experience of the benefits of economic empowerment. So it's that space that feels unknown and that's the space where we want o do the research on. It's a two year project in Solomon's and in PNG. We'd also like the opportunity, depending on funding, to explore the issues in Vanuatu. Use those findings to inform the development of tools and resources for other NGOs or community organisations that are working in the area.
JT: You're currently talking with the Foreign Affairs department and the Australian National University, what kind of time frame is there for this research?
LF: We're hoping the contract will be signed and we'll be able to commence potentially may of this year. We're hoping the research will be over the next couple of years which gives us a great opportunity to both do the research, report back to DFAT and modify and improve the research.
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