Economic Empowerment

In 2016/17, IWDA has sustained partnerships that increased women’s access to safe and equitable employment. The programs throughout Solomon Islands, Cambodia and Timor-Leste have strengthened women’s technical skills and their capacity to develop markets for their products, which has in turn led to increased peer learning and collaboration.

 “Before we were included in the women’s group no one recognised us and we did not have enough capacity to manage a business; we did not have confidence to speak out to many people, and could not make decisions in my family” – a leader for the Remmajeleleju group in Timor-Leste

The West 'Are'Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) savings clubs skyrocket

IWDA has partnered with WARA for nine years and in this time, WARA’s savings club has given women a space to come together and learn more about managing finances and how to store their savings safely. This year, we have seen their savings club skyrocket, reaching a total of 1.5 million Solomon Islands dollars or almost $250,000AUD. WARA is now working to diversify their funding into superannuation plans and funding for women’s education and health.

Land Rights in Papua New Guinea

From a history of environmental protection and sustainable land management programs, Wide Bay Conservation Association’s Matrilineal Clan Land Rights project has now been piloted in three communities. The project documents clan histories, geologies, and land boundaries as an expression of sovereignty and to support a woman’s role in negotiating land ownership and boundaries.

This process continues to support clan groups to retain their respect for women as custodians of the land and allows women to be fully involved in the decision making in any planned development.

New research collaboration for garment industry reform in Cambodia

The Women’s Action for Voice and Empowerment program, a partnership funded within the Government of the Netherlands Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women program, supports a significant new research and data collection initiative led by United Sisterhood – Workers Information Centre (WIC), in collaboration with Monash University and Focus on the Global South. The research will use feminist participatory methods to analyse the impact of economic liberalisation and trade policies on the living and working conditions of garment workers. It will also capture the key areas for reform to improve the lives of women workers.

STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Intergenerational empowerment through savings club

Growing up, Janet was only allowed to attend primary school – her parents, like many of their generation with daughters, didn’t want her attending secondary school. Janet didn’t learn about gender, decision-making, or managing her own finances. That all changed when she joined West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) in 1999. WARA is a women-led, volunteer-run savings club that gives women a space to come together and learn more about managing finances and how to store their savings safely.  Now, Janet’s daughter Anita is a member of WARA, and has big plans for her future.

The women running the village of Lalawa

Felizarda is the leader of a women’s group supported by IWDA Partner Covalima Community Centre. Through the women’s group, these phenomenal women learned about leadership, savings and financing, and gender equality. The group has empowered the women to do amazing things, from becoming hamlet leaders to acting as Village Chief. On top of being leaders, these women are also small business owners, producing and selling vegetables, virgin oils, baskets and tais cloths. By taking their finances into their own hands, these women are supporting their families and gaining the confidence and power to speak out in their communities.