Developing indicators of gender equity in Pacific economies: working from the bottom up

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 20 May 2014


Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra


Katerine Gibson, Michelle Carnegie and Katharine McKinnon


Louana Gaffey
+61 2 6125 8244


This paper applies a broad conception of what constitutes an economy in the process of engaging communities in developing indicators of gender equity. Rather than assuming we know what economic development is and what gender equity might be, we undertook to listen to the concerns of people in Pacific communities. In the current period Pacific nations are participating in negotiations over a regional free trade agreement, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), that if enacted is predicted to generate more jobs in the formal labor market. Development assistance is directed at capacity building and training towards these goals. While the majority of people in the Pacific are unlikely to benefit directly from such developments, it is clear that gendered impacts will be widely felt. Certain cohorts of men and women will be more likely to access paid jobs than others and the impacts on households and gender relations are unknown. This paper reports on research that developed a method for capturing the current diversity of economic roles and practices in Pacific communities and their gendered nature. With the tools we developed it is possible to apprehend the ways women and men understand gender equity now and how existing practices are valued. This research will enable a baseline of gendered economic practice from which to monitor future developments associated with the PACER intervention. It will also allow communities to appreciate the significant strengths of their current lives from which to initiate complementary or alternative community based developments (post-development).


Professor Katherine Gibson is an economic geographer with an international reputation for innovative research on economic transformation and over 30 years' experience of working with communities to build resilient economies.  Katherine has co-authored a number of influential books on rethinking economic and community development that have been translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese and Korean. Her work has been taken up by communities around the world to help them revision and enact economies which sustain people and environments by putting ethical concerns at the centre of negotiation about collective futures. She has worked in Asia, the US, the Pacific and Australia and was head of the Department of Human Geography in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University for 10 years. She is currently a Professorial Research Fellow in the Institute of Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney.

Dr Michelle Carnegie holds a PhD in human geography from the Australian National University. She has an interest in exploring economic alternatives and grassroots approaches for development, especially in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Michelle's doctoral research focused on the changing livelihoods of small-scale traders and fishers in Indonesia's eastern archipelago and the importance of informal economic activities in earning a living and creating wellbeing. Michelle has published articles in Asia Pacific Viewpoint, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, The Australian Journal of Anthropology and Asian Journal of Social Science. In the past, she has worked in the international development sector in Indonesia as a consultant on a bilateral aid project focused on improving health services for women. Michelle is currently a Lecturer in International Development and Global Studies at the Australian Catholic University, Sydney.

Dr Katharine McKinnon is a lecturer in geography and development studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. Her research in development has focused on the politics of development, particularly in relation to the challenges of being a development professional. More recent projects have included the indigenous rights movement in mainland Southeast Asia, and gender and the economy in the Pacific.

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