Modern Papua New Guinea

By Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi | Go to book overview

Martha Macintyre


THE PERSISTENCE OF INEQUALITY
Women in Papua New Guinea since
Independence

NINETEEN SEVENTY-FIVE WAS United Nations International Women's Year as well as the year of independence for Papua New Guinea. The rhetoric of women's rights and improvement in women's status and economic position resounded in Papua New Guinea as it did throughout the world. The seventh of the Eight Aims drawn up by Somare in 1972 had called for:

A rapid increase in the equal and active participation of women in all
forms of economic and social activity.

Given the very high level of involvement of women in economic activity in rural areas, this call must be viewed as a policy for incorporating women in economic activities that are deemed to be ‘modern’, ‘developmental’, or part of the cash economy. These ideals were later enshrined in the national Goals and Directive Principles relating to the Constitution. The principles and goals invoke Western liberal ideals of individual autonomy and personal freedom of action whereby ‘each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relation with others’ (No. 1). This capacity of individual development is basic to the further aim:

Equal participation by women citizens in all political, economic,
social and religious activities. (No. 5).

-211-

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