Co-operatives as an organisational model for urban women in Papua New Guinea

GCRF Funding Cycle

Principal Investigator
Melissa Demian

Social Anthropology

ODA countries
Papua New Guinea

Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 5

Towns and cities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are characterised by rapid in-migration from the rural areas of the country, insecure housing, a youth bulge, and precarious livelihoods that depend heavily on the informal economy. Due to ongoing structural inequalities in access to education and to land-based resources, women in PNG are subject to high rates of violence that are both physical and economic in nature. This participatory action research project is framed as an intervention into knowledge exchange between newly-formed urban women’s business co-operatives in Lae and established co-operatives elsewhere in the country.

The present project addresses the following goals voiced by research participants:

  • The desire for economic activities independent of their husbands. Urban women frame the aspiration of generating their own income as one of releasing themselves from dependence on precariously employed men to support them and their children.
  • The desire to form groups with other women for mutual support and to embark on larger business ventures than any of them would be able to do individually.
  • The desire to engage with other women in educational, training, or other knowledge transfer capacity.
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The project engagement has included meeting with 8 urban women’s groups of varying size (10-30 members each) and with public Provincial Government officers from the following departments: Commerce and Community Development, the Institute for National, and has informal sector officers for UN Women