Women's Economic Participation in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea ranked 156 out of 186 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index for 2013, largely because of the harsh conditions endured by women there. Most women in PNG, for example, are less educated than men, face grave threats of physical and sexual violence, and rarely acquire real property, secure business loans, or achieve independence or prosperity.

In this report we explore the participation of women in PNG’s economy through four priorities of APEC’s Policy Partnership on Women in the Economy: access to capital, access to markets, capacity and skills, and leadership. It was prepared as part of the U.S. government-supported APEC Technical Assistance and Training Facility (TATF) program.

We conclude that PNG’s institutions must be challenged to open opportunities for women to participate in the economy and that any such challenge must be based in fact. To better understand the economic status of women the central government should collect sex-disaggregated data, beginning with economic, social, educational, and political functions at all levels of government that already routinely collect data from the public. Likewise, aid agencies should include sex-disaggregated data in their own development projects, acknowledging the vastly different contexts for the economic participation of men and women in PNG. Regular media outreach, public discussion, and international reports should present reform champions, success stories, and lessons learned.

With a fact-based understanding of women’s role in PNG’s economy, reforms will be less difficult to devise and track; and with facts readily available public officials charged with supporting the economic interests of women can be held accountable.

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