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It is often believed that improving opportunities for women to earn income would result in improved status for them particularly in relation to men, the theory being that having an income or an increased income would improve women’s “bargaining power” within the household. Some researchers consider that intimate partner violence would be a reduced, while others believe it would be increased. Those trying to promote women’s economic empowerment face the vexing issue that their efforts may have unintended consequences, improving one aspect of women’s lives but undermining others. This seminar reports on research undertaken for the project, Do No Harm: Understanding the Relationship between Women’s Economic Empowerment and Violence against Women in Melanesia. The question addressed by this project was how to improve women’s economic agency and security without compromising their safety.
The project is a collaboration between Department of Pacific Affairs (formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program) and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA). This research has been funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development.