Gender, social change and inclusion

Our research in this area seeks to understand transformations in social and cultural landscapes and gender identities in the Pacific, and what they mean for politics, security, and more inclusive development outcomes.

Subtopics within this program of research include:

Women’s leadership and political participation Across the Pacific, women continue to be grossly under-represented in decision-making at all levels. The degree to which women are under-represented in Pacific legislatures is more pronounced than anywhere else in the world, and finding ways to improve support for women to perform successfully in Pacific elections remains a major policy challenge. DPA scholars have generated a significant body of research concerning women’s leadership and political participation across the region, which has directly informed policy development. Through the PRP we are continuing to investigate women’s leadership at various levels and in a range of sectors to draw lessons for policymakers and program designers seeking to improve women’s leadership and participation in political processes throughout the Pacific.

Women’s economic empowerment

We are investigating the effectiveness and impact of various economic empowerment initiatives for women in the Pacific. Addressing women’s economic opportunities and agency in the context of other dimensions of their lives, including their familial situation, is crucial. Approaching the task of improving women’s economic opportunities and agency in isolation can limit the overall gains in this policy area. For example, our research has shown that women are increasingly responsible for income earning without any reduction in unpaid caring and household work. To be successful, interventions intended to enhance women’s economic inclusion and empowerment need to be well-informed and carefully planned, monitored and reviewed. Through our research we are working closely with development partners to collate and assess evidence regarding the constraints and enablers of women’s economic empowerment.

Ending violence against women and girls

Ending violence against women and girls is a vital developmental challenge for Pacific Island countries, with several country studies having documented high levels of violence against women. The problem is particularly acute in Melanesian countries. Responding to endemic levels of violence against women, many Pacific Island countries, in association with bilateral and multilateral partners, have embarked on legislative reform. Approaches to prevention, however, are less well-developed, and there is increasing recognition of the importance of community-based approaches to prevention. Through our research we are seeking to understand the drivers of violence and how to mitigate it.

Cover of IB 2021/18 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG – Part 8: Responses to Prevent Sorcery Accusation Turning to Violence — Reporting from the SARV Incident Database

IB 2021/18 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG – Part 8: Responses to Prevent Sorcery Accusation Turning to Violence — Reporting from the SARV Incident Database

This In Brief is the final part in a series presenting findings from a multi-year study of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) in PNG in four hotspot provinces — Enga, The Autonomous Region of Bougainville (...

Cover of In Brief 2021/16 The Controversial Use of the Gender Quota in the 2021 Samoan General Election: A Personal Perspective – Part 1

IB 2021/16 The Controversial Use of the Gender Quota in the 2021 Samoan General Election: A Personal Perspective – Part 1

The first of this two-part In Brief series outlines the events that followed the 2021 Samoan general election and contextualises them in terms of gender norms in Samoa. Part 2 describes the gender quota that was...

Cover of In Brief 2021/17 The Controversial Use of the Gender Quota in the 2021 Samoan General Election: A Personal Perspective – Part 2

IB 2021/17 The Controversial Use of the Gender Quota in the 2021 Samoan General Election: A Personal Perspective – Part 2

The 2021 general election in Samoa was followed by a series of controversial events, including the use of the gender quota as a strategy for the incumbent government to hold onto power. The first In Brief of this two...

Cover of Helping Family and Sexual Violence Survivors in Papua New Guinea: Evaluation of Femili PNG, Lae Operations 2014-2020

Helping Family and Sexual Violence Survivors in Papua New Guinea: Evaluation of Femili PNG, Lae Operations 2014-2020

The key evaluation questions covered whether the Lae operations of Femili PNG was achieving the organisation’s four strategic priorities, which relate to service delivery and organisational resilience, and the impact...

Cover of In Brief 2021/15 Domestic Violence in Papua New Guinea: A Case Study from Boroko District Court, Port Moresby

IB 2021/15 Domestic Violence in Papua New Guinea: A Case Study from Boroko District Court, Port Moresby

In May 2021, in PNG’s national parliament, a special parliamentary committee on gender-based violence conducted public hearings and invited submissions to gain evidence on the breadth of the problems and positive...

Cover of In Brief 2021/05 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG Part 5: Incidents and Victims

IB 2021/05 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG Part 5: Incidents and Victims

This is the fifth In Brief in a series presenting findings from a multi-year study of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 2017, the first In Brief of the series described the two...

Cover of In Brief 2021/06 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG Part 6: Catalysts of Accusation and Violence

IB 2021/06 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG Part 6: Catalysts of Accusation and Violence

This is the sixth In Brief on the findings from a quantitative analysis of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The authors report on an incident database of recorded SARV cases (...

Cover of In Brief 2021/07 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG Part 7: The Harm of SARV

IB 2021/07 Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence in PNG Part 7: The Harm of SARV

This is the seventh In Brief in a series presenting findings from a multi-year study of sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). This In Brief reports on the various dimensions of harm...

Cover of Family Protection Orders in Papua New Guinea - Main Report

Family Protection Orders in Papua New Guinea - Main Report

The aim of the research project on which this report is based, was to investigate whether the family protection orders (FPOs) introduced under the Family Protection Act 2013 (FPA) were being accessed by, and...

Cover of Family Protection Orders in Papua New Guinea: Summary Report

Family Protection Orders in Papua New Guinea: Summary Report

The aim of the research project on which this summary report is based, was to investigate whether the family protection orders (FPOs) introduced under the Family Protection Act 2013 (FPA) were being accessed by, and...

Cover of Family Protection Orders: Court Processes in Papua New Guinea

Family Protection Orders: Court Processes in Papua New Guinea

This report outlines some findings and observations about how courts in Papua New Guinea (PNG) handle the family protection orders (FPOs) introduced under the Family Protection Act 2013. It is based on direct...

Cover of Domestic Violence and Family Law in Papua New Guinea

Domestic Violence and Family Law in Papua New Guinea

This paper arose from a research project on family protection orders (FPOs) in Papua New Guinea (PNG), during which it became apparent that many matters being brought to the police and courts involved both domestic...

Cover of Domestic violence, the law and related services in Papua New Guinea: A survey of young adults in Port Moresby and Lae

Domestic violence, the law and related services in Papua New Guinea: A survey of young adults in Port Moresby and Lae

A survey of young adults was conducted in Port Moresby and Lae towards the end of 2019 and in early 2020 as part of a larger study on the use and efficacy of family protection orders (FPOs) as a key response to...

Cover of In Brief 2021/04 Political Economy Analysis in Supporting Women’s Electoral Candidacy: Lessons from Nauru

IB 2021/04 Political Economy Analysis in Supporting Women’s Electoral Candidacy: Lessons from Nauru

With elections expected in Samoa and Tonga in 2021, and Papua New Guinea in 2022, development partners will have already turned their attention to women’s inclusion in those electoral processes as a means by which to...

Cover of In Brief Political Leadership in Papua New Guinea: Three Women Parliamentarians Defeated in the 2017 Election: Part One

IB 2021/01 Political Leadership in Papua New Guinea: Three Women Parliamentarians Defeated in the 2017 Election: Part One

The three women parliamentarians who were elected in the 2012 Papua New Guinea (PNG) election failed to win re-election in the 2017 general election. Their electoral defeats only deepen the concern for gender...

Cover of In Brief 2021/02 Political Leadership in Papua New Guinea: Three Women Parliamentarians Defeated in the 2017 Election: Part Two

IB 2021/02 Political Leadership in Papua New Guinea: Three Women Parliamentarians Defeated in the 2017 Election: Part Two

This is the second In Brief in a two-part series. Part 1 detailed the circumstances surrounding the unsuccessful re-election of three women members of parliament (MPs) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In this second part I...

Cover of In Brief 2020/25 Lusim Hanmak: Why Women Candidates in Papua New Guinea Need to Start Early

IB 2020/25 Lusim Hanmak: Why Women Candidates in Papua New Guinea Need to Start Early

Among Papua New Guineans, it is common practice for intending candidates to do their groundwork, known locally as ‘doing awareness’ or lusim hanmak,1 months before the official election period. Hanmak, in the context...

Cover of In Brief 2020/23 Sexual Violence Against Children in Papua New Guinea: What the Criminal Justice Data Tells Us

IB 2020/23 Sexual Violence Against Children in Papua New Guinea: What the Criminal Justice Data Tells Us

Sexual violence against children is a fraught, sensitive subject that is extremely difficult to raise without potentially causing further harm. As such, only a minority of incidents are reported to police. Still,...

Cover of Women’s economic empowerment among coffee smallholders in Papua New Guinea

Women’s economic empowerment among coffee smallholders in Papua New Guinea

Women’s economic empowerment is an important component of the Australian Government’s aid policy and programming in the Pacific. There is a critical need for research to provide an understanding of the challenges to...

Cover of PB 2020/01 Mentoring to Support Women’s Leadership

PB 2020/01 Mentoring to Support Women’s Leadership

Mentoring has become an increasingly common form of assistance used by development partners to support women’s leadership in Pacific Island contexts. This Policy Brief highlights the need for mentoring programs to be...

Cover of Reporting, Investigating and Prosecuting Family and Sexual Violence Offences in Papua New Guinea

Reporting, Investigating and Prosecuting Family and Sexual Violence Offences in Papua New Guinea

This report presents findings of research conducted between June and October 2019 by a small team from the Australian National University (ANU), with the assistance of researchers based in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The...

in brief

IB 2020/11 The 2020 Vanuatu Elections: How Did Women Fare?

In the Vanuatu national elections held on 19 March 2020, voters elected their third consecutive all-male parliament. Across 10 of Vanuatu’s 18 constituencies, only 18 women contested the elections and were...

in brief

IB 2020/01 Widows and Wives in Pacific Politics: A Reliable Pathway for Women?

Understanding women’s pathways to political leadership remains a critical area of academic and public policy focus in the Pacific. In this In Brief, Baker and Palmieri consider an alternate and potentially rather ‘...

IB 2019/27 Attitudes Towards Women’s Political Participation in Solomon Islands

The ANU’s Department of Pacific Affairs ran a large-scale election observation exercise in Solomon Islands prior to, during and following national elections held on 3 April 2019. Observations were conducted in 15 of...

DP

DP 2019/04 The Long Road to Becoming a Parliamentarian in Samoa: Political Apprenticeship, Learning New Language and Pushing Gender Boundaries

In this Discussion Paper, Hon. Ali‘imalemanu Alofa Tuuau tells her story of becoming a member of the National Legislative Assembly in Samoa in 2016. Samoa ranks 166th out of 191 in global rankings on women’s...

in brief

IB 2019/23 Understanding Gender Relations in PNG after Decades of Activism — A Personal Perspective, Part 2

In many cultural settings in Melanesian societies, politics is for the men. How can we challenge an entrenched political culture that restricts the degree to which women are able to play leadership roles and take...

in brief

IB 2019/22 Becoming a Grassroots Activist in PNG: Leading from Behind — A Personal Perspective, Part 1

In this In Brief, Sarah discusses some of her early grassroots activities and education, which not only helped her become the active citizen she is today but also the things that helped many women to become strong...

in brief

IB 2019/18 Women’s Candidacy and the Power of Incumbency in the 2019 Solomon Islands Election

The 2019 Solomon Islands election marked the first time in the country’s history that two women were elected to parliament in a general election. Lanelle Tanangada, who had been elected in the 2018 by-election for...

Discussion Paper

DP 2019/01 Effective Support for Women’s Leadership in the Pacific: Lessons from the Evidence

Improving women’s leadership prospects in the Pacific is a priority for development organisations – but, after years of efforts to understand and help overcome the barriers that women face - what actually works?...

IB 2019/07 Vanuatu’s Family Protection Act: Contextualisation, Resistance and Implementation

Over the past 10 years, many Pacific Island countries and territories have been amending their laws to address the issue of domestic violence. Vanuatu was the first Pacific Island country to put in place targeted...

Family Protection Orders in PNG Research Report - A Pilot Study in Lae, Papua New Guinea

The pilot study was conducted primarily from March to August 2018 in the urban centre of Lae in Papua New Guinea (PNG), with the support and advice of members of the Morobe Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee...

IB 2019/02 Family Protection Orders in Lae, Papua New Guinea: Part 1 Accessing Justice

A pilot study was undertaken in Lae, the second-largest urban centre in PNG, over six months in 2018 to examine the uptake and efficacy of family protection orders (FPOs). With the support of the Morobe Family and...

IB 2019/03 Family Protection Orders in Lae, Papua New Guinea: Part 2 Improving Safety

A pilot study on the use and effectiveness of family protection orders was undertaken in Lae, Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2018. The aim of the orders, introduced under the Family Protection Act (FPA) 2013, is to...

IB 2019/04 Family Protection Orders in Lae, Papua New Guinea: Part 3 Factors Affecting the Accessibility and Effectiveness of the Orders

A pilot study on the use and effectiveness of family protection orders (FPOs) was undertaken in Lae, Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2018. The aim of the orders, introduced under the Family Protection Act (FPA) 2013, is to...

IB 2018/27 Women’s Representation in the 2018 Fiji Election

Fiji went to the polls on 14 November 2018. The incumbent FijiFirst Party won a narrower victory than expected, with just over 50 per cen t of the vote. The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Liberal Party...

IB 2018/19 Community Law-Making and the Codification of Customary Laws — Social and Gender Issues in Samoa

Samoa1 possesses two parallel systems through which social order and justice are maintained: the formal constitution-based judicial and legal system and the traditional justice mechanism provided by the village fono...

In Brief

IB 2018/17 Early Modern Witchcraft Trials: Are There Lessons for Sorcery Accusation-Related Violence Today?

In this In Brief, the author talks about the relevance of witchcraft trials in early modern Europe to the contemporary sorcery accusation-related violence in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

DP2018/02 Timor-Leste and the Empowerment of Women: Access to Justice and the Future for Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Survivors

Women in Timor-Leste have long experienced discrimination in health, education, employment and access to justice (UN General Assembly 2008). The prevalence and severity of gender-based violence (GBV) is considered to...

Do No Harm Research: Bougainville coverpage

Do No Harm Research: Bougainville

This report covers the research undertaken in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as part of the much larger project, Do No Harm: Understanding the Relationship between Women’s Economic Empowerment and Violence...

Do No Harm Research: Papua New Guinea coverpage

Do No Harm Research: Papua New Guinea

This report covers the research undertaken in the Papua New Guinea highlands as part of the much larger project, Do No Harm: Understanding the Relationship between Women’s Economic Empowerment and Violence against...

Do No Harm Research: Solomon Islands coverpage

Do No Harm Research: Solomon Islands

This report covers the research undertaken in Solomon Islands as part of the much larger project, Do No Harm: Understanding the Relationship between Women’s Economic Empowerment and Violence against Women in...

DPA In Brief

IB2017/38 Experiences of Female Candidates in the 2017 Papua New Guinea General Election

Papua New Guinea went to the polls in June–July 2017 for its ninth general election since independence. Despite a record number of women standing — around five per cent of the total number of candidates — no women...

DPA Discussion Paper

DP2017/8 Gender Challenges to Financial Inclusion in Papua New Guinea

This paper draws on research undertaken in 2015 among coffee smallholders in Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), focusing specifically on some of the challenges faced by women coffee farmers in...

DPA In Brief

IB2017/32 Women’s Economic Empowerment and Escaping Violent Relationships

Drawing on research in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) highlands as part of the Do No Harm (DNH) project, this In Brief examines some of the challenges women face in escaping violent relationships. One assumption often...

DPA In Brief

IB2017/31 Sorcery Accusation–Related Violence in Papua New Guinea Part 4: Trends over Time and Geographic Spread

This is the last In Brief in a four-part series that summarises key findings from an analysis of reports of sorcery accusation– related violence (SARV) in national newspaper articles and court cases over a 20-year...

DPA In Brief

IB2017/30 Sorcery Accusation–Related Violence in Papua New Guinea Part 3: State and Non-State Responses

This is the third In Brief of a four-part series on the findings from a quantitative analysis of media and case law relating to sorcery accusation–related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea during a 20-year period (...

DPA In Brief

IB2017/29 Sorcery Accusation–Related Violence in Papua New Guinea Part 2: Key Characteristics of Incidents, Victims and Perpetrators

It is extremely difficult to gauge the nature and extent of sorcery accusation–related violence (SARV) at a national level in any country. In part this is due to under-reporting and because official health and...

DPA In Brief

IB2017/28 Sorcery Accusation–Related Violence in Papua New Guinea Part 1: Questions and Methodology

This In Brief sets out the main research questions and summarises the methodology of a major study into sorcery accusation–related violence (SARV) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The study began in November 2016 and will...

SSGM In Brief

IB2017/25 Anti-Retroviral Therapy and Social Danger in Papua New Guinea

During fieldwork in Jiwaka Province in the highlands of Papua New Guinea in 2016, Richard Eves had a troubling conversation with a village court magistrate about the consequences of supplying anti-retroviral therapy...

SSGM In Brief

IB2017/12 Coffee is Men’s Business (Part 2)

Ever since its introduction to the Papua New Guinea Highlands during the colonial period, coffee has been seen as ‘men’s business’ (see Eves and Titus 2017). This In Brief examines the attempts of some communities to...

SSGM In Brief

IB2017/11 Coffee is Men’s Business (Part 1)

Coffee is one of the most important cash crops in Papua New Guinea and is the mainstay of the economies of several Highlands provinces, with an estimated almost three million people dependent on income from it (Imbun...

SSGM In Brief

IB2017/7 Developing Community Laws to Address Sorcery and Witchcraft-Related Violence in Papua New Guinea

Witchcraft and sorcery-related violence, the focus of much attention in recent years, is seemingly an intractable problem that is impossible to remedy (see Forsyth and Eves 2015). While such pessimism is not without...

SSGM In Brief

IB2017/4 Unequal Work Burdens: Challenges to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Solomon Islands

Despite women’s economic empowerment now being considered an essential component of development programming, in many parts of the world empowerment has not assured improvement in women’s wellbeing. Rather, it has...

SSGM In Brief

IB2017/3 Conflicts over Credit: Challenges to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Solomon Islands

This In Brief looks at the challenges to women’s economic empowerment posed by the cultural pressure to give. Though the pressure to give affects everyone who has an income, women are more likely to be intimidated by...

SSGM In Brief

Do No Harm: The Relationship between Violence Against Women and Women's Economic Empowerment in the Pacific

It is now widely accepted that women's economic empowerment brings a range of benefits even beyond gender equality gains for individual women, greatly improving the health, wellbeing, and productivity of entire families...

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