In Papua New Guinea, it is primarily through being ‘good’ wives, mothers and household managers that women become valued. This situation can leave young women and those who do not become wives and mothers with limited options for gaining respect and a voice, while potentially also constraining the opportunities for women to participate in other spheres.
This short paper reflects on research suggests that women who have proved they are ‘good’ wives and mothers are well positioned to gain the support of their husbands for independent economic ventures. Other women developing successful businesses are widows and divorcees; women in these categories tend to rely on the support of their families, especially their sons. In both cases, the families of these entrepreneurial women sanction their activities on the basis that they are good wives, mothers and household managers.
Other research looking at perceptions of women’s political participation highlights women’s status and abilities as mothers and providers. This includes their competence managing the household in all areas from finances to general maintenance, their efficiency in meeting the needs of their children and husband, and their ability to multi-task.