The papers in this section do not directly address the theme ‘Gender and governance’ – neither word is in familiar usage by the indigenous contributors, whose concern is particular local practice rather than universal theory. Each paper outlines the actual operation of a modest strategy or programme to enhance the skills, self-respect and community status and effectiveness of rural women in a Melanesian nation-state. Several papers propose policy implications of the particular cases discussed, and all make compelling arguments for the civic, social and moral importance of encouraging and tapping the capacities of village women. These papers are edited versions of presentations to a State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project workshop which was convened in November 1998 (Douglas 1999). The introduction examines the pertinence of the papers to global notions of’gender’ and ‘governance’ in the light of the workshop theme – Melanesian women as female persons, Christians and citizens in modern states.