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Rural households and resource management in Papua New Guinea

CollectionsANU Resources, Environment & Development Group (RE&D)
Title: Rural households and resource management in Papua New Guinea
Author(s): Gustafsson, Berit
Keywords: Papua New Guinea
resource management
rural households
western ideals
women's role
agriculture
development planning
decision-making
indigenous structures
indigenous culture
kinship system
western society
Publisher: Canberra, ACT: Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program (RMAP), Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School for Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program (RMAP) Working Paper: No. 32
Description: 
In this paper I intend to focus on women’s role in the development process in Papua New Guinea, in particular, what I think has contributed to the neglect of women’s traditional roles and their knowledge in, for example, agriculture and resource management in development projects. I want to suggest some alternative methods that may eventually contribute to the inclusion of women in decision-making and the planning of projects that so far have focused primarily on men. Nowadays, development projects are usually preceded and accompanied by a gender awareness analysis, and there has been a growing focus on women’s productive roles and the integration of women into the national economy. However, in the final stages of project planning, development planners and donor agencies still seem to remain ignorant of, or refuse to acknowledge, indigenous social and economic structures. I would argue that the reason why they fail to understand indigenous structures, and the roles that men and women play in the local society, depends on which model is applied in the gender awareness analysis. Ideas about gender roles often reflect the development planner’s own views of gender roles in Western society, and not in the one being studied. However, even though women in Papua New Guinea usually do not have formal rights to land, and rarely perform in public, they often control stages in the production of food and goods, and have valuable knowledge and skills to which men might not have access. Such skills and knowledge are embedded in local structures and cannot be understood with the use of Western models. In order to understand indigenous structures, it is necessary to broaden the perspective from public performances and ownership, and look at the roles in which men and women perform in economic and political life in the indigenous culture. Before any project planning for resource management we must study how knowledge is transferred, the division of work according to gender in the productive chain, and the rules that decide who should do what and cooperate with whom. We should also ask whether the incorporation of indigenous models in development planning might in fact contribute in a better way to sustainable development and equal participation by both genders.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/41085

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