By Rebecca Bryant, Assistant Director General, Sustainable Economic Development Branch, AusAID
Ensuring that the benefits from mining actually make their way to local communities is a challenge the world over. Ensuring that women and men are able to access these benefits equitably, irrespective of their roles in the household, community, workforce and leadership, is an even greater challenge.
Ms Ume Wainetti is currently the Program Coordinator of the Family Sexual Violence Committee in Papua New Guinea. She was also the women’s representative at the Ok Tedi compensation negotiations in 2007.
Ume Wainetti speaking at a 2011 event in PNG marking the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Photo: AusAID
The Ok Tedi gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province remains a key source of revenue for the PNG Government. It is large, impacting more than 50,000 people in 120 villages downstream of the mine. The environmental impacts of the flow of tailings and waste rock into the river system are felt keenly by the local women who tend the market gardens. However, these women were not represented at all in compensation negotiations with communities impacted by the mines’ operations, until Ms Wainetti’s appointment to the negotiating team.
By Heather Murphy and Anna Clancy, Office of Development Effectiveness, AusAID
Women’s economic empowerment—the ability for women to participate in the economy—is a crucial element of gender equality and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Last year the World Bank declared that promoting gender equality is ‘smart economics’ and argued that greater gender equality will boost a country’s productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make public institutions more representative.
So, how is the Australian aid program supporting women’s economic empowerment in developing countries? The Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE), AusAID’s independent evaluation unit, is currently undertaking research to answer that question. ODE’s evaluation is looking at Australian programs and policies on a global level, as well as specific country case studies, to draw out development lessons on promoting women’s empowerment.
By Allison Taylor, Education Policy Officer, AusAID
Challenging disadvantage and disengagement among boys in secondary school is a policy focus of the 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR). This focus reminds me of a training session which the AusAID’s Gender Equality and Policy Section provided shortly after I started with AusAID, where I discovered that the term ‘gender’ does not equate with ‘women’, as I thought at the time, nor is it interchangeable with ‘sex’. Gender refers to relations between different groups of women and girls, men and boys and involves the roles, behaviours and characteristics that society gives them. Now, after developing an increasing passion for gender and development, it seems so obvious.
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 each year and is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the many wonderful, inspirational women in our lives. However, it is also a time to think about those women that are struggling just to survive each day across the world.
UN Women Australia’s theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is women’s economic empowerment. Economic empowerment recognises that increasing women’s access to quality education, meaningful employment, land and other resources contributes positively to gender inclusion, sustainable development and growth in prosperity.
This year International Women’s Day hopes to raise awareness and increase economic security for women across the Asia Pacific region by helping improve their workplace conditions. Photo: Julie McKay / UN Women Australia
International Women’s Day 2012 is about celebrating the vital role women play in enhancing economic prosperity in their families, communities and countries while
recognising that significant barriers to achieving women’s economic security and equality continue to exist.
One in three women will experience violence at the hands of men in their lifetime. In the Pacific this is as high as two in three – two-thirds of the female population experiencing violence from husband, partner, family or friend.
Violence against women is a fundamental social and development issue.
Gender equality is the focus of my visit to the Pacific this week. I will be one member of a bipartisan delegation led by the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop, Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro and Government MP Bernie Ripoll will also take part in the trip. Our delegation will visit the Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu and Samoa.
As well as meeting heads of government and other ministers, we are holding talks with women parliamentarians, women’s groups and will visit Australian-funded programs to promote women and girls’ empowerment.
Gender inequity and the violence that attends it must be tackled head on for developing nations to reach their full potential. As long as violence against women continues, women, their children, their families, whole communities and whole nations are at risk of entrenched poverty and suffering.
Australia has taken a leadership role in strategies to address gender inequality across the globe. It is both the right thing and the smart thing to do. If we don’t address gender inequality, we cannot deliver a more effective aid program. Nor can we deliver on our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.